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Victor Olerskiy, the Deputy Minister of Transport for the Russian Federation and Head of the Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport, spoke in a recent interview of the potential for collaboration between Russia and Canada in terms of Arctic shipping trade and regulations.

One of the current strategic objectives of Russia is the development of the Arctic region and its resource capacity, as melting ice floes open up new shipping routes in the northern areas.

Victor Olerskiy expressed a desire for Russia and Canada to open a dialogue regarding the mutually beneficial opportunities in the Arctic region, speaking of a more intense cooperation between the two nations that have similar interests. More information about Arctic shipping routes can be found in the PDF attachment to this post.

The Northwest Passage and other routes are increasingly opening up to shipping as ice floes continue to melt.

Russian Infrastructure

In his interview with a Canadian correspondent from TASS, Olerskiy spoke of the Russian infrastructure and shipping capability already in place in the Arctic region. Olerskiy discussed the construction project already implemented in the Russian Arctic zone, which will have a capacity to transport 8.5 million tons of oil per year from the Novoportovskoye field by ship in the Cape Kamenny region.

Oil produced at this field is delivered to end users in North America and Western Europe, via the seaport of Murmansk on the Northern Sea Route. The sea terminal’s cargo turnover in 2016 equated to 2.8 million tons. Medium-term plans announced by Olerskiy in this sector included the construction of the Chaika coal terminal in the Dickson seaport, and the Tanalau oil terminal.

Plans are also underway to develop the Salmanovsky oil and gas condensate field through construction of a new liquefied natural gas terminal. In 2016, the total cargo transportation volume along the Northern Sea Route amounted to 7.5 million tons, equating to a 27.4% increase.

Russia-Canada Collaboration

In his interview, Victor Olerskiy made mention of a coordinated approach between Canada and Russia in the pipeline for setting regulations for shipping in the Arctic. The Deputy Minister stated that talks were underway with several relevant specialists in Canada with a focus on resolving development issues in the Arctic region, as well as regulating transit and industrial activity in Arctic waters and ensuring compliance with the newly enforced Polar Code. You can learn more about implementation of the Polar Code in the short video attachment.

The legal issues that face shipping in both the North Western Passage by Canada and the Northern Sea Route by Russia are similar in nature, said Olerskiy, and so cooperative collaboration between the two nations would be of benefit to each.

The Northwest Passage

The Northwest Passage is the name of the Arctic sea route that lies north of the mainland of Canada, which is estimated to become increasingly viable for shipping as ice continues to melt. The warming of the Arctic waters means that this route is open for longer during the summer months, creating new marine transport opportunities that could cut thousands of miles off a typical journey.

In 2014, the first unescorted passage of a cargo ship took place through the Northwest Passage, when the Nunavik traversed the route from Quebec to China in 26 days. This compares to 41 days taken by the same ship to return from China to Quebec via the more widely used Panama Canal route.

Some figures on the growth of shipping in the Canadian Arctic region can be found in the embedded infographic.