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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Four overall conclusions of geopolitical and economic significance to shipping in these waters can be
drawn from the above discussion:
1. In terms of resources, manoeuvrable sea ice and logistics, the NEP is by far the most attractive of
the three Arctic Passages, both in the short and medium term, and even, under certain conditions, in
the long term. This implies that Russia, claiming national jurisdiction over the NSR, has a key role in
controlling the most important part of Arctic shipping. Three developments can change/mitigate
this situation; (a)
the parties agree to disagree,
i.e. none of the opposing interests are publicly
compromised in management. The parties keep a straight face and look the other way when need be.
This is a short term “solution,” which has worked for the NWP; (b)
the disagreement is resolved through
negotiations between the parties involved
. Given the long history and complexity of the matter, this solution
may be time consuming, although preferable. At best, it is a resolution in the medium term. Third,
nature provides a solution
in that the sea ice disappears from the Arctic Ocean as indicated by climate
models. In such an event, the TPP may get a new role in transit shipments on the premise that they
do not involve parts of the coastal waters of the NSR and NWP. If, however, the claim of
jurisdiction to the High-latitude and Near-North Pole routes of the NSR is made official Russian
policy, the freedom of the High Seas is violated, and a fresh legal controversy may be added to issue
of Arctic shipping.
2. Driven by the search for resources, destination shipping is likely to increase along both the NEP
and NWP throughout the 21
century. However, indications are that the harvesting of these
resources may not happen as fast and on such a scale as many observers seem to take for granted, at
least not in the immediate to medium term future. Developments of new production sites takes time,
up to 30 years of completion. On grounds like this, the volume of destination shipping along the
NEP most likely will increase in the
short term
, based on existing production sites, and also in the
, based on new production sites to be developed in the
medium term
. In this perspective the
medium term may be a period of relative stagnation and even decline in the transport volume for oil
and gas along the NEP.
Transit shipments on the NEP saw a surprising increase in the 2011 season and is expected to be
even more pronounced in the years ahead. Actually, transit shipments along the NEP may in the
short term pick up some extra momentum and get a higher volume than usually expected due to its
relatively favourable ice conditions and degree of logistical development. This is not the case for the