NSR Shipping Traffic – Transit Voyages in 2020

The statistics from the Northern Sea Route (NSR) from last year shows an increase in activity in the icy waters north of Russia. The gradual and continuing growth in the number of transit voyages and their cargo volume over the past few years has come to a sharp increase in 2020. Compared to the year of 2019 it has doubled.

In 2020, transit traffic began on July 20th. On this date the first ship doing a transit entered the water, and the last transit voyage ended on the 17th of November. During these incomplete four months, 64 voyages were made, the total volume of transported cargo amounted to 1 281 010 tons.

The main share of transported cargo belonged to iron ore concentrate (1 004 134 tons). It is worth noting the huge difference between the volume of this cargo in 2019 and 2020:

Last year, there were 13 voyages with iron ore. Among these, six ships were from Murmansk and seven from Nunavut in Canada. Three of them also went in the opposite direction from east to west (return voyages). The ice class of most of these vessels are mainly low. Six ships have Ice 2, three ships have Arc 4 and two ships have Arc 5. The GRT exceeded 65 thousand tons only in two of these ships. The rest are from 41 to 44 thousand tons.

As for the rest of transit transportations: general cargo ships belonging to COSCO most of the other companies used routes of the NSR. A total of eight vessels, with GRT from 22 to 26 thousand tons, made eleven voyages, from east to west and in the opposite direction. It should be noted that the return voyages were also loaded with cargo. In total, COSCO transported 198 451 tons. These were windmill equipment, wood pulp, fertilizer and other general and bulk cargo. The ports of exit and destination in Europe were in Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Germany and Sweden.

Most of the ships passed the waters of the NSR without difficulties. The fastest of all the NSR crossed was a nuclear container ship “Sevmorput” – 5.9 days, the slowest was the ship “Callisto” – 13.8 days. Excluding these maximum and minimum values, we find that on average in 2020, vessels that were in transit crossed the NSR in 8 days. At the same time, only one vessel used the icebreaker support. This was the “Nordic Svalbard” vessel, which sailed late July and early August.

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