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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Shipping and Resources in the Arctic Ocean
The Northern Maritime Corridor
The “Northern Maritime Corridor” (NMC) stretches from the White Sea in the north, with partners
in Murmansk, Nenets and Arkhangelsk regions, to multiple ports in the North Sea (Solheim et al.,
2004: 70). This corridor was approved as an inter-regional project by the European Union (EU) in
2002, involving partners in 22 regions in 8 countries. The NMC is regarded by western analysts as a
most important linkage to Northwest Russia, connecting “…the NMC to the …Northern Sea Route
which connects Northwest Russia to the Pacific Ocean” (Solheim et al., 2004: 71). In our definition
of the NEP, the NMC overlaps with the latter in the White and Barents Seas. In this definition, the
NMC overlaps with the traditional geographical conception of the NEP, making the Barents Sea a
definitional venue of four overlapping routes: the NEP, the NMC, the Kara Sea Route (KSR) and
the functional extension of the NSR (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: The NMC – NEP Connection
Source: Ocean Futures (2006)
Marine transport of Russian oil through the NMC has been going on for some time already, but
increased dramatically in 2002. The oil comes from production sites in Western Siberia. As the
existing pipeline from Siberia to southern Russia was oversubscribed at the time, oil was instead
shipped by train to the White Sea, transferred to tankers and shipped on to the European market
through the NMC. Crude oil, bunker oil and refined products are shipped out on small ice
strengthened tankers from different ports in the White Sea to Murmansk where it is transferred to
large tankers for export. The transport capacity was originally about 5.4 million tonnes a year, but is
expected to triple and quadruple over a short period of time (Østreng et al., 2012: Ch. 3).