"Full scale logistical use of the Arctic means development of the Northern Sea Route, which can become a key transport thoroughfare between Europe and Asia," Yuri Elizariev, expert with the Department for Transport Economics and Development of the Analytical Center, told the RBC+ portal.
The Northern Sea Route Needs to be Developed in Order to Explore the Arctic Region
According to the expert the Suez Canal plays the role of such a thoroughfare. However in order to develop the Northern Sea Route Russia needs to build a fleet of nuclear LNG powered icebreakers.
"In order to tap the full potential of the Russian Arctic region, a long term geological exploration and natural resources development program is needed to create the foundation for planning socio-economic development in the Arctic areas and creating transport, logistical and energy infrastructure there," Mr. Elizariev noted.
He went on to point out that according to the Ministry of Natural Resources, about 40% of the land and some 70% of the Russian Arctic shelf have deposits of oil and natural gas. In addition, the Arctic also has large deposits of coal, ore, gold, silver, platinoids and rare earth metals. However, at this point nobody knows the exact amount of resources available there as half the land above the arctic circle hasn't been explored yet and more than 90% of the continental shelf has not been explored.
The expert noted that the task set by the Russian president at the April forum in Saint Petersburg is for the Arctic to become a territory of dialog where the Northern Sea route and other transport systems should be developed to offer a safe year round highly competitive international transport corridor to connect Europe and Asia-Pacific. In accordance with the president's May decree, the annual traffic flowing through the Northern Sea Route must reach 80 million tonnes by 2024. In 2018, only 20 million tonnes of cargo was transported via the Northern Sea Route.