SCF Group Sovcomflot calls for more rules for Northern Sea Route

  Jul 18--RUSSIA's SCF Group (Sovcomflot) has called on Moscow to continue its drive to improve navigational safety measures on the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

  The company has also called for and for a ban on substandard ships and crews sailing in the environmentally sensitive region.

  The move follows significant shipping traffic growth along the NSR and further projected growth, said the company.

  During the meeting, held on July 10 with the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, SCF Group CEO Sergey Frank stressed the necessity of taking additional measures to ensure navigation safety along the NSR given the significant growth of freight traffic in that area.

  St Petersburg's PortNews reports that cargo volume through the NSR increased 33 per cent from 5.15 million tons in 2015 to more than 6.9 million tons in 2016.

  This compares to 2.8 million tons in 2013 and 3.7 million tons in 2014. The port of Sabetta and Yamal LNG fields are big contributor to traffic growth.

  Vessels carrying 214,500 tons in 2016 made it from Europe to Asia or vice versa, a big increase over 2015 when ships made it through with 39,000 tons. But it doesn't match the 2012 peak when 1.2 millions tons made it through.

  The 2016 shipping season also saw increased activity by Cosco, which, for the first time, sent five vessels along the NSR in part to deliver construction materials for Yamal LNG to Sabetta.

  The Northern Sea Route Administration issued a total of 718 permits for the route, similar to the 715 permits it granted in 2015.

  In 2018, just the two energy projects in the Gulf of Ob (Novy Port and Yamal LNG), both served by SCF vessels, are expected to generate around 11.5 million tonnes of freight alone, almost doubling the Soviet-era NSR peak record of 6.6 million tonnes in 1987.

  SCF shuttle tankers have commenced year-round oil shipments from Novy Port for the first time as recently as September 2016, and Yamal LNG is expected to come onstream in late 2017.

  On behalf of the maritime community, Sergey Frank has expressed a hope that the Russian government will maintain the rate at which NSR infrastructure is being improved to ensure that the existing navigation safety measures remain adequate to the needs of the growing vessel traffic.

  This includes consistently developing the navigational and hydrographic support system, boosting the readiness of rescue services, and improving the reliability of navigational and communications aids.


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