Taking advantage of melting polar ice, China’s largest state-owned shipping company opened a new route bound for Europe via the Arctic Ocean that will significantly reduce shipping times and fuel costs.
Dubbed “the golden water way” by China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co., the new route is considerably shorter than the previous route that ran through the Suez Canal in Egypt.
Using the Northern Sea route, COSCO’s ships will avoid dangerous waters in the Indian Ocean where piracy cases are reported every year. The decision to use the new route was influenced in part by the effects of global warming, which have caused an increase in the melting of polar sea ice.
According to the company’s official website, a ceremony to commemorate the start of the service took place Aug. 8 in Dalian, China. After the ceremony, a 19,000-ton COSCO cargo ship left port for Rotterdam.
According to the Financial Times, after passing through the Arctic Ocean north of Russia, the cargo vessel will run west of Norway to reach its destination. The older route via the Suez Canal requires 48 days for a cargo vessel to arrive in Europe from China, but the Northern Sea route can shorten the shipping time by up to 15 days, the newspaper reported.
However, the new route has some obstacles to overcome, said a Japanese company that carried out a trial voyage in the Northern Sea route several years ago.
“There is only a limited period of time during a year for vessels to pass through the Northern Sea route,” said a Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. official. “There are also many problems to settle, such as expenses for ice-breaking vessels and insufficient ports and harbors.”
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