The Northern Sea Route witnessed a record volume as 9.7 million tons of cargo were shipped on the route during 2017.
The number marks the biggest annual volume ever on the route, the Russian Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport said, adding that only 194,364 tons of the total were shipped across the route, between the Bering Strait and the Novaya Zemlya.
A major share of the shipments were handled through the port of Murmansk, which accounted for almost two thirds of all the total port turnover, according to The Barents Observer. Up to 51,7 million tons were shipped through the port, representing a surge of over 54 percent from the previous year.
Developments related to a number of major Arctic projects, including the Yamal LNG, the Arctic LNG 2, oil shipments from the Novy Port, as well as the terminal at Varandey, pushed the volumes up.
During 2016, the Northern Sea Route handled 7.3 million tons, marking a rise of 35 percent compared to 2015.
Local media reported that the the amount of cargo on the route could rise to 40 million tons by 2022 due to further developments in LNG production facilities and oil and gas fields, and 70 to 80 million tons by 2030.
With shipping in the region set to increase further, the Clean Arctic Alliance has called for a ban on the use and carriage of HFO as ship fuel in the Arctic.
“This growth in traffic brings an increased risk of oil spills, and greater emissions of black carbon, which exacerbates the melting of sea ice. With the next meeting of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee coming up in April, we’re calling on member states to back a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil – the dirtiest from shipping fuels – from vessels operating in Arctic waters,” Sian Prior, lead advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, said.