Russian and South Korean officials are reportedly discussing how to create an Arctic container shipping line that would stretch from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Murmansk along the Northern Sea Route.
RIA Novosti reports that Russia’s Minister for Development of the Far East, Aleksandr Galushka, and South Korea’s Minister of Oceans and Fisheries, Kim Yong-suk held a meeting in Seoul on Monday to calculate needed investments and projected income from the joint project.
The Norway-based Independent Barents Observer picked up the story and noted that South Korea is showing increasing interest in using Arctic shipping routes due to a dramatic reduction in Arctic sea ice. The route is much shorter than current shipping lines that run from Asia to Europa via the Suez Canal.
Galushka reportedly discussed financial models for how to make the Northern Sea Route profitable. Profitability was said to hinge on the seasonal ebbs and flows of sea ice. But one of the ideas involved directing container ships to the Northern Sea Route in summer, when the ice is lowest, and via the Suez during the winter season.
Kim Yong-suk also unveiled South Korea’s plans to build an icebreaker to support shipping along the northern route at the meeting.
The Observer noted in its story that a South Korean icebreaker completed a 70-day exploration mission in the Arctic this summer for the Korea Polar Research Institute. The vessel reportedly carried an international team of researchers on board to study global warming and the Arctic ecosystem.
South Korea’s Hyundai said earlier this year that it plans to test run a few container ships along the Northern Sea Route beginning in 2020.