Agreements inked for container transit, logistics hub to ship via Northern Sea Route

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An agreement was signed earlier this week on the Northern Container Transit (NCT) project to set up the first regular container line to ship transit cargo between eastern and western Eurasia via the Northern Sea Route (NSR). 

The cooperation agreement, realised at the just concluded Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, was signed by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom and the country’s state-run oil and gas giant Gazprom subsidiaries Gazpromneft Marine Bunker and Gazpromneft Shipping. 

A Rosatom statement said the agreement provides collaboration in the construction and operation of the Arctic fleet that will be constructed as part of the NCT project. This collaboration comprises studying the possibility of supplying the project with the infrastructure required to organise its operations on liquefied natural gas (LNG) and working out best possible conditions for bunkering the fleet with LNG or other types of fuel.  

“Cooperation between Rosatom and Gazprom Neft’s enterprises will help improve environmental safety and sustainability of the first Arctic container line and contribute to decarbonisation of shipping in Russia’s Arctic regions,” the statement said.  

“Thanks to the development of a transit route through the Northern Sea Route, global trade participants will get additional freight delivery routes that reduce transportation times and environmental impact,” Rosatom’s Director for Business Development, Ekaterina Lyakhova, said in a statement.  

Gazpromneft Marine Bunker Director General, Anton Sobolev, said: “Companies that transport freight across the Northern Sea Route, as well as specialised vessels that operate under large projects, are among our partners. To ensure year-round supply of fuel to the polar fleet, the company has built an end-to-end logistical infrastructure, including its own ice-class bunkering ships to navigate at high northern latitudes.” 

The Northern Sea Route via the Arctic is the shortest route between East Asian and Western European ports. Rosatom operates nuclear powered icebreakers that help keep the NSR open for navigation. In addition, Rosatom is equipping the NSR facilities, building port infrastructure, and developing transit.   

Another agreement was signed at the Eastern Economic Forum between Russia’s Far East and Arctic Development Corporation (FEDC) and Rosatom logistics arm Rusatom Cargo on cooperation in the construction of the Western Transportation and Logistics Hub (WHUB).  

The Western Hub, to be located in the town of Belokamenka in the Murmansk Region together with a similar hub in the Far Eastern port city of Vladivostok and a fleet of ice-class container ships, is the infrastructural backbone of the Arctic container line project titled the Eurasian Container Transit (EACT). 

Rosatom said that establishing the first regular container line aims to create a marine transit transportation service for containerized cargo shipped between Eurasia’s Eastern and Western parts via the Northern Sea Route.  

“The Western Hub is intended to tranship cargo from/to specialised ice-class container ships and non-ice-class vessels,” a statement said. 

The terminal will consist of two deep-water berths designed to accommodate vessels with a maximum capacity of 6,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) and will be equipped with state-of-the-art, high-performance handling technology. The Western Hub is expected to have an annual throughput capacity of about 10 million tons of cargo, it added.  

The Western Hub project aims to tranship cargo from ice-class container ships to conventional commercial vessels and vice versa. 

According to the FEDC Director General Nikolay Zapryagaev, it is impossible to develop the Russian Arctic and the Northern Sea Route without building new generation transhipment ports that take marine ecosystem preservation into account.