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Arctic Yearbook 2012
In addition, the trans-Atlantic branch of the NMC, which connects the NEP to the East Coast of
North America, has been activated for transport as the first load was delivered to the U.S. East Coast
in February 2008. Since transport costs from Murmansk to North America are comparable to those
from the Middle East, this trade is expected to increase rapidly (Fokus North, 2007: 2). By 2020 the
estimate is that 20 million tonnes of LNG will be transported from Russian Arctic gas fields to
North America (Lassere and Pelletier, 2011: 1469). In this geopolitical perspective, Siberia is linked
to Washington via two or three Arctic routes and the transoceanic blue water branch of the NMC.
Due to Iceland’s geographical location en route to the North American East Coast, Icelandic
authorities and shipping companies have plans to service the trans-oceanic branch of the NMC by
offering deep ocean ports, repair facilities, reloading of cargo from small to large tankers etc. The
idea is to establish a transhipment port at Isafjordur in northwest Iceland. Previously, the harbours at
Reykjavik and Reydarfjordur in East Iceland have been suggested. The government points out that
the deep fjords in west Iceland, like Hvalfjordur offer good natural conditions for ports for big ships
and even “better than other options in the northern part of the Atlantic” (MFA, 2006: 39). The
Icelandic government not only suggests that Iceland could be a transhipment country for the east
coast of North America, but also for Northern Europe. The geopolitics of this scheme is that
Iceland can facilitate international trade “…as a transhipment hub…between the continents of
Europe, North America and Asia across the Central Arctic Ocean through trans-arctic sea routes”
(Heininen, 2011: 32). The reference to Asia has among other things to do with the close cooperation
that has developed between Iceland and China in the course of the three last years on Arctic
shipping (Barentsobserver, 2010).
The Northern Pacific Corridor
The “Northern Pacific Corridor” (NPC) on the Pacific has not yet been formally established or for
that matter got an official name. For the purpose of this article it is named the NPC, which starts out
in the Bering Strait, overlapping with the functional definition of the NSR on the Pacific.
The Bering Strait is a narrow international strait that connects the Arctic Ocean to the North Pacific
Ocean. It is the geographical venue of the NWP, NEP, TPP and NPC – a choke point through
which all vessels have to pass to exit or access the Arctic Ocean on the Pacific. At the strait’s
narrowest point, the continents of North America and Asia are just 90 km apart. The biggest depth is
60 meters. Seasonally, dynamic sea-conditions found in this natural bottleneck are labelled by some