China starts daily Arctic sea ice broadcasts for Northeast Passage routes

The Tianjin Coastal Station will provide sea ice analyses and weather forecasts twice daily until October 31.

Reuters July 01, 2024

A Chinese radio station on Monday started broadcasts on Arctic sea ice conditions off Russia's coast for vessels sailing the Northeast Passage, as China seeks to further utilise the world's northernmost routes as alternatives to the Suez Canal.

Arctic sea routes are increasingly being used as an alternative global trade route connecting the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean to major economies as global warming shrinks ice packs and also allows for longer ice-free periods for vessels.

China and Russia have also been working together to develop Arctic shipping routes as Russia seeks to deliver more oil and gas to China amid Western sanctions while China seeks an alternative shipping route to reduce its dependence on the Strait of Malacca.

The Tianjin Coastal Station, run by the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin, has begun broadcasting sea ice analyses and forecasts and weather information for the Bering Strait, Dmitry Laptev Strait, Velikitsky Strait and Kara Strait along the Russian coast, Tianjin Daily reported on Monday.

From July 1 to Oct. 31, the radio station will run Arctic bulletins every day at 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. Beijing time, the state-run newspaper said.

The Northeast Passage, also known as the Northern Sea Route (NSR), in particular shortens the distances between Europe and East Asia compared to the traditional route via the Suez Canal.

The NSR runs from Murmansk near Russia's border with Norway to the Bering Strait near Alaska, spanning 13,000 km (8,078 miles). In contrast, shipping routes between Europe and Asia via the Suez Canal are about 21,000 kilometres.

China currently imports some of its liquefied natural gas from Russia via the Arctic, mainly through a Yamal project operated by Russian energy company Novatek in which China National Petroleum Corp and China's state-run Silk Road Fund each has a stake.

The Yamal LNG project delivers to the Northeast Asian market through the NSR during summer, while in winter, it delivers via westward routes.

Russian energy giant Gazprom delivered its first cargo of LNG via the NSR to China in September last year.

India, the biggest buyer of seaborne Russia oil, has also expressed interest in working with Moscow on Arctic shipping and related economic cooperation.


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