Sunday, August 23, 2009

Climate change opens arctic route for German ships

BERLIN (Reuters) - Two German ships set off on Friday on the first journey across Russia's Arctic-facing northern shore without the help of icebreakers after climate change helped opened the passage, the company said.

Niels Stolberg, president and CEO of Beluga Shipping GmbH, said the "Beluga Fraternity" and "Beluga Foresight" left the Russian port of Vladivostok on the historic and cost-saving journey with cargo picked up in South Korea bound for Holland.

The melting of Arctic ice as a result of climate change has made it possible to send Beluga's multi-purpose heavy lift ships along the legendary Northeast Passage, Stolberg said.

Beluga got Russian authorities' clearance to send the first non-Russian commercial vessels through the route on Friday.

The Northern Sea Route trims 4,000 nautical miles off the usual 11,000-mile journey via the Suez Canal -- yielding considerable savings in fuel costs and CO2 emissions, he said.

"Russian submarines and icebreakers have used the Northern Route in the past but it wasn't open for regular commercial shipping before now because there are many areas with thick ice," Stolberg told Reuters in an email interview.

Here is the complete Reuters article.

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