This study aimed to achieve establishment of continuous haulage system on the Northern Sea Route, one of the Arctic Passage Routes, running along the Russian Arctic coast from Novaya Zemlya to the Bering Sea.
Although the Northern Sea Route is dubbed as the Third Canal, Arctic shipping of goods is limitedly available only during three to four months of summer depending on the state of sea ice.
For timely exploitation of the Arctic route, solutions to constraints on regular use was sought by analyzing the following aspects:
1) natural conditions,
2) navigation-related conditions to be met by crew members,
equipments and vessels, communications system,
3) rescue operation and shelter construction,
4) the administrative regulations recommended or forced by the Arctic Nations including Russia and International Organizations and, most intensively,
5) tolls and cost of transshipment and ice breakers.
As means of establishment of year-round haulage system on the Northeastern Passage, the Combined Shuttle Service is proposed: Goods are transported on normal container ships on the open sea from Busan to Petropavlovsk, Russia and then transshipped to Double Acting Ship in Petropavlovsk for shipment to Murmansk, followed by transshipment back to normal container ships for transport to Rotterdam.
The location of transshipment ports were chosen based on the following rules:
1) Distance that requires the usage of DAS or escort by icebreaker should be minimized.
2) The transshipment ports should be accessible all year around (ice-free port) and be capable of providing basic repair service, fresh water, fuel oil, and general supplies on board.
3) The ports should have loading/unloading facility, container storage yards, and longshoremen available. In addition, the ports’ administrative system for customs and security should be improved while the ports should be competent in terms of time and cost.
4) Deviation from the main trunk channel should be minimized.
By analyzing the aforementioned aspects of the ports located along the NSR between Busan and Rotterdam, Petropavlovsk on the easternmost side and Murmansk on the westernmost side are selected.
The major issue with this approach is the increased extra cost due to the two transshipments(once each at Petropavlovsk and Murmansk), icebreaker escort charge, and toll fee. To address this issue, cost adjustment parameters was introduced to empirically analyze those costs for different scenarios.
This study shows that year-round usage of NSR is economically feasible when 1)the ice breaker escort fee is reduced by 85% and 2) the transshipment cost is reduced by 50% while the transit toll fee is completely waived.