It’s colder than the Persian Gulf, needs more icebreakers than the Suez Canal and passes less picturesque beaches than the Mediterranean, but the so-called Northern Sea route connecting Europe to Asia via the northern coast of Russia has its advantages.
It’s a shorter and quicker route, and thus more energy efficient. And it avoids many of the geopolitical flash points that make shipping risky–instead of the Strait of Malacca, the Horn of Africa and Egypt’s Suez region, boats can hug the coat of Russia for a chilly but uneventful ride.
Here’s a look at the route in comparison to the more traditional option, put together by the WSJ for a story last year:
The route has been a viable shipping lane only in recent years, thanks to thinning Arctic ice cover. As the WSJ reported in mid-2013, energy companies have been keen to try out the prospect of a faster link between Russia’s giant oil and gas fields and the ports of China and Japan.
Full article: The World’s Next Oil Shipping Corridor: The Arctic Ocean (Wall Street Journal)