Russian officials claimed during the last week of 2023 to have reached a record annual level of cargo moving along the Northern Sea Route in 2023. It said that volumes recovered from the 2022 downturn and that it was laying the groundwork for the continued expansion of the route.
On the night of December 20th/21st Russian cargo ship Talnakh (17,940 dwt) established the record for the year. The vessel which operates for Norilsk Nickel between the inland port of Dudinka on the Kara Sea and Murmansk on the Barents arrived in Murmansk carrying 17,000 tons of cargo.
The trip was in part made possible by two of FSUE Atomflot’s nuclear icebreakers, which operate under long-term contract to Norilsk Nickel. The vessels were required to lay and maintain a channel from Dudinka along the Yenisei River to the Kara Sea. It was one of 730 vessel supports provided by the icebreakers in 2023, up from 653 in 2022.
FSUE Atomflot said that the Talnakh journey meant that the total carried surpassed 35m tons of cargo transported on the route in 2023 compared to 34.117m tons of cargo in 2022. The target is to move 100,000 tons a day on the route. By the end of 2023, it was expected that the increase would be to 36.35m tons in 2023.
The figure is also significant because it also passed the previous record of 34.9m tons transported along the route in 2021.
Russian officials hope that cargo will redirect from the Suez Cana
The success of the NSR is important to President Putin. In addition to the approval to begin year-round transit on the route, they point to plans to increase the infrastructure capacity to accommodate 80m tons this year and 110m tons by 2030. The eventual target is said to be 220m tons of cargo annually.