Northern Sea Route Developing Fast – But What Happened to the Transshipment Container Terminal Capacity in Orkney – Fingers Out Or Scotland Misses Out Yet Again




Scapa Flo Orkney




Container Transshipment and Demand for Container Terminal Capacity in Scotland

Scapa Flow in Orkney provides the best available deep water port in Europe with the potential to handle any amount of major transshipment of today’s mega-size container ships.

The container port market in Northern Europe is expected to continue its upward trend, demand more than doubled over the 2001-2015 and is expected to double again between 2015-2030.

With container traffic increasing faster than output, transshipment growth will be even more rapid as carriers, due to ship upsizing, reduce the number of direct port calls and move towards hub and bespoke services.

For the fast growing Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, New Zealand, other Asian markets and existing European and North American Authorities, the efficiencies and economies will be matched by the opportunity to achieve through use of the Orkney facility, the secure gateways required.

Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland will benefit directly from economic spin-off, cheaper transport and a major stimulus to the development of sea and water-borne alternatives to the UK road network.

Full details here:










The Impact of Global warming on World Trade

As the seas around Russia are released from the grip of the Arctic ice studies are projecting: “remarkable shifts in trade flows between Asia and Europe, diversion of trade within Europe, heavy shipping traffic in the Arctic and a substantial drop in Suez traffic.

Russia has not been slow to recognise the new opening for trade and is building nuclear powered ice-breaker ships well capable of keeping sea channels open to commercial traffic.

Cost savings achieved using a new “Northern Channel” are eye wateringly high and joint development, with Russia or China of a new trans container facility, at the southern end of the channel, in Orkney would bring significant benefits to participating countries.

Presently the channel is freely navigable in the summer and autumn months, ice breaker support is required over the winter period but a report by the Copenhagen Business School found that large-scale trans-Arctic shipping will become economically viable by 2040.





6 Sep 2017: The Northern Sea Route is completely ice-free and shipping thrives

As Russian Arctic ice shrinks to this year’s lowest, a big number of ships are moving in. In waters normally covered by thick ice, ships are today sailing easily and without escorts.

Ice data from Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute show that the whole Northern Sea Route now is ice-free.

Even in the waters between the Kara Sea and the Bering Strait, normally a highly complex and ice-covered area, shipping appears smooth and easy.

The ice edge in the East Siberian Sea is now retreating to north of the 75th parallel and practically the whole Laptev Sea is ice-free.

There is only some scattered ice around the Vilkitsky Strait, the area separating the Kara Sea and the Laptev Sea.




The Northern Sea Route – The Russian Perspective

Due to global warming, it will become viable to deliver goods from Europe to the Pacific throughout the Arctic as ice floes melt.

There is reason to believe that China would be interested in participating in the development of the NSR, as the waterway will save time and can help China find a way out of the Strait of Malacca dilemma that has long plagued importers and exporters.

Efforts to open up the NSR would help pump fresh investment into the country and would benefit the development of Russia’s Far East.

The NSR has the potential to become a significant new area for cooperation between China and Russia. It is expected that the Belt and Road initiative will create an opportunity for Russia’s NSR ambitions to turn into reality.





The Northern Sea Route – The Chinese Perspective

The Northern Sea Route, one of three Arctic shipping routes that connect East Asia and Europe along the Russian coastline, is now subject to more attention than ever before. The Northern Sea Route Administration notes that in 2016 traffic volume on the Northern Sea Route reached 7,265,700 tonnes – an increase of 35 percent in comparison with 2015.

As the world’s third largest ship-owner, China has a strong interest in Arctic shipping, especially in the Northern Sea Route. That was reflected in China’s decision to include the Arctic in its Belt and Road Initiative.

On June 20, 2017, China’s National Development and Reform Commission and State Oceanic Administration published the “Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative” (the Vision). The Vision officially incorporates the Arctic into China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Moreover, before attending the G20 Summit in Hamburg, President Xi Jinping visited Russia and signed the “China-Russia Joint Declaration on Further Strengthening Comprehensive, Strategic and Cooperative Partnership” (Joint Declaration) on July 4, 2017.

Described as the Ice Silk Road, the development of the Northern Sea Route is a key area of cooperation between China and Russia.

The Ice Silk Road can be seen as a further step in shaping China’s Arctic policy. The three main pillars of this policy are: respect, cooperation, and sustainability.

Moreover, the BRI now officially extends to the Arctic, which could help achieve the objectives of China’s Arctic policy. It is now very clear that China is keen to play a role as a user of the Northern Sea Route.

As elaborated in the Vision:

China is willing to work with all parties in conducting scientific surveys of navigational routes, setting up land-based monitoring stations, carrying out research on climatic and environmental changes in the Arctic, as well as providing navigational forecasting services.

China supports efforts by countries bordering the Arctic in improving marine transportation conditions, and encourages Chinese enterprises to take part in the commercial use of the Arctic route.

So why is China keen to use the Northern Sea Route?

It is commonly known that the Northern Sea Route could shorten the distance of transportation between China and European ports.

China also sees the opportunity of resources development in the Russian Arctic. But perhaps more importantly, China believes that the Northern Sea Route is strategically important for its energy security.

China is facing the dilemma that energy from Africa and the Persian Gulf passes through waters dominated by strategic competitors (the United States and India),   threatened by piracy, or bottle-necked at the Strait of Malacca. It would therefore be helpful to have an alternative shipping route along a politically stable area.



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