China Plans First Commercial Trip Through Arctic Shortcut In 2013
|Photo from NASA Public Domain|
|Photo from NSIDC, Public Domain|
(Reuters) - A Chinese shipping firm is planning the country's first commercial voyage through a shortcut across the Arctic Ocean to the United States and Europe in 2013, a leading Chinese scientist said on Tuesday.
Huigen Yang, director general of the Polar Research Institute of China, told Reuters that the trip he led last year on the icebreaker Xuelong, or Snowdragon, to explore the route had "greatly encouraged" Chinese shipping companies.
"One commercial voyage by a Chinese shipping company may take place this summer," he said.
For China, the world's No. 2 economy after the United States, the route would save time and money. The distance from Shanghai to Hamburg is 2,800 nautical miles (5,185 kms) shorter via the Arctic than via the Suez Canal, Yang said.
Despite ice risks on a route that is opening because of climate change, shipping as well as oil and gas exploration and mining businesses are being drawn to the Arctic region.