COf course, scientific and military ships have already done so. But it opened up to commercial shipping that seemed unrealistic a few decades ago … even in the summer! Christophe de Margerie, the LNG tanker, is seen as a marketing ploy for Russia’s Sofcom Flute – and at the same time, a message to other companies tying in Asia and Europe dreaming of being able to. Save 13,000 kilometers from the current voyage through the Panama Canal.
Christophe de Margerie – named after the former CEO of the French oil company Total – nevertheless benefited from the support of the Russian icebreaker – Russia also has an economic interest in promoting this path. The two ships did not make the entire Russian Arctic route, but a round-trip from the port of Sabita, on the Yamal Peninsula, was to become a major export location for natural gas extracted in the Russian Arctic. Departing from Sabetta on January 5 with his cargo of natural gas, it arrived in the Chinese port of Jiangsu, from where it departed on January 27, and returned to Sabetta on February 19.
There was clearly ice: the hull was equipped to navigate in such an environment. But it is annual ice, much thinner (from 30 to 200 cm) than ice that does not thaw from year to year, and in this context winter mobility becomes possible. “There is no multi-year ice in the area,” notes the newspaper from Alaska. Barents Observer.
Sofcomflot’s press release reminds us “traditionally,” that “transit navigation on this portion of the North Sea Route ends in November and does not resume until July.”
The paradox has not escaped environmentalists: the port of Sabetta can now increase its exports of natural gas, which is a contribution to global warming … which would not have been possible without global warming.