Thursday, January 27, 2011

Russia drafts law on Northern Sea Route

The new law will arrange for effective use by all nations of the new shipping lane between Europe and Asia.

The Russian parliamentary commission on national maritime policy is currently discussing a draft law on the future use of the Northern Sea Route. At a recent session in Naryan-Mar, the parliamentary commission met with oil companies, shipping companies and heads of indigenous peoples organizations in northern Russia, reports Voice of Russia.
The commission is headed by Vyacheslav Popov, Murmansk region’s representative in the Federation Council.
- The new law is aimed at making the northern shipping route effective so that it can be used by all countries, says Popov in the interview with Voice of Russia.
Creating new AdministrationOne of the issues under discussion is the need for a new Northern Sea Route Administration. Such Administration will provide information about navigational and hydrographical details for ships, and render rescue services along the route from Kola Peninsula in the west to Kamchatka in the east.
The upcoming law is discussed in detail with the Russian transport ministry, Duma-representatives, indigenous peoples living along the north coast of Siberia and petroleum companies.
Another important regulation for ship using the Northern Sea Route will be how to choose the best navigation route, depending on ice-conditions and size of the ships sailing. It will be the new Northern Sea Route Administration that should bear the responsibility for choosing the optimal route in cooperation with the escorting icebreakers.
Not obligatory with icebreaker assistanceIcebreaker escort will not be obligatory for foreign vessels as the members of the commission drafting the law see it today. However, icebreakers will be available for those vessels that with such assistance and the icebreakers will always be on duty in specified places along the ice-covered areas of the route.
The cargo transport through the Northern Sea Route will tenfold by 2020 according to estimates by the Murmansk authorities, as previously reported by BarentsObserver.
While 2009 was a kind of test year for vessels sailing the entire route from Asia to Europe via the Arctic, this year has been the breakthrough for commercial shipping along the Northern Sea Route.
See BarentsObserver’s overview of vessels that have sailed the Northern Sea Route during the 2010 season.
The rapid ongoing climate change is bringing vast change to the Arctic, and previous ice-covered areas are becoming more accessible for shipping. September 2010 was the first time in modern history that the Northern Sea Route was totally ice-free, with only some few places with drift ice that could be seen from the bridges of the vessels that sailed the route.
Sailing from Europe to Asia along the top of Russia's Arctic coast takes only two thirds of the time it takes to go through the Suez Canal to the south. The Arctic lane also has the advantage of not being frequented by the sorts of pirates that lurk off the coast of Somalia.

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