Arctic Yearbook 2012
The Future of Arctic Shipping Along the Transpolar Sea Route
heavy and the amount of floating sea ice and icebergs may increase during the early melt season, as
ice floes break apart and drift across the Arctic Ocean.
Figure 7 Uncertainties & Opportunities of the Transpolar Sea Route
The TSR’s legal situation is without much uncertainty as it lies outside any Arctic coastal state’s
national jurisdiction. Regulations for shipping on high seas and specific guidelines related to Arctic
shipping, including a future mandatory polar code, already provide for a legal framework in the
region and will affect shipping across the TSR.
Yet shipping operators are rather skeptical towards the future development of Arctic shipping.
Although time-savings always matter in the shipping business, predictability and liability are regarded
as even more important. To achieve economic profitability along the TSR a different kind of
economic optimization needs to be developed which takes into account the lack of economic hubs,
the cost associated with different types of Arctic shipping, and uncertainties with regard to
investments for special equipment and insurance. A number of studies on the theoretical advantages
conclude that bulk shipping will be more viable than liner shipping in the near future, yet emphasize
the potential niche factor of Arctic shipping. In that regard future hydrocarbon resource exploitation