The Northwest Passage is open for business and shipping companies are ready to take advantage of it.
Shipping between the destinations along the Atlantic Ocean and ports in the Pacific Ocean has always been a long haul. In 2007, another option opened up – the Northwest Passage. Since then, shipping traffic has increased significantly. Newfoundlanders are considering building a transshipment port at Argentia, which would serve as a transfer point for shipping containers. A Chinese company recently sent a cargo ship containing nothing but shipping containers through the Northwest Passage, generating excitement for seaside communities.
Shipping through the Northwest Passage shortens the amount of time the trip takes compared to shipping through the Panama Canal. Less fuel is used and more cargo can be carried on the ship because of the deeper waters in the Arctic.
Some details need to be worked out before the Northwest Passage is truly ready for business. Search and rescue teams need to be stationed along the route. Cleanup teams need to be ready to deploy in the event of the inevitable oil spill. Most importantly for both private and government operations, ports need to be built.
Rather than throw so much effort into the tar sands, Canada might consider the economic benefits of exploiting the passage opened by the receding sea ice. If the Canadian government doesn’t invest in the area, Russia will, drawing the economic benefits to themselves.
By Janet Larsen and Emily E. Adams On October 7, 2013, the Nordic Orion bulk carrier ship completed its journey from Vancouver, Canada, to Pori, Finland, having traveled northward around Alaska and through the Northwest Passage. It was the first large…
Photo of a frozen morning at the port of Gdansk via Shutterstock