Eye-catching numbers have emerged on the expected trade boom from the Arctic route to Europe for Chinese business.
It is the first time a Chinese merchant ship has travelled to Europe via the Arctic Northeast Passage. Picture: Sergey Anisimov
Cosco Shipping - part of China's state-owned shipping giant Cosco Group - announced its maiden voyage with a multi-purpose vessel last week.
'The ship left Dalian port in Northeast China's Liaoning province and is scheduled to take 33 days to reach Europe,' reported China Daily.
'It is the first time a Chinese merchant ship has travelled to Europe via the Arctic Northeast Passage. The total deadweight tonnage of the multipurpose vessel is 19,461 tons. The ship is expected to arrive in the Bering Strait on August 25'.
The route traverses the Bering Strait, the East Siberian Sea and the Vilkitsky Strait - between the Taimyr Peninsula and Bolshevik Island in the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago, connecting the Kara and Laptev Seas.
The North East Passage - with a distance of 2,936 nautical miles (5,437 kilometres) is seen as 'most economic route', said China Daily. The polar route has become accessible because of climate change: and China Daily sets out some compelling statistics as to the trade benefits for a country that remains the world's largest exporter, with 90% of its trade carried by sea.
Icebreaker '50 Years Since Victory' escorting the 'Beluga Fraternity' and 'Beluga Foresight' along the North East passage. Picture: Beluga Group
'Once the new passage is opened, it will change the market pattern of the global shipping industry because it will shorten the maritime distance significantly among the Chinese, European and North American markets," Qi Shaobin, a professor at Dalian Maritime University, was quoted as saying.
He forecast major ports such as Dandong, Yingkou, Qinhuangdao and Tianjin would benefit from the new routes, and especially those in the northeast of the country with China's trade projected to grow to $7.6 trillion by 2020, according to the Polar Research Institute of China forecasts.
Han Yichao, an industrial analyst with Changjiang Securities Co, was reported as saying that if 10 percent of China's trade was shipped through the Arctic routes by then, the value could be worth $683 billion.
Cosco Shipping believe 'the opening of the Northeast Passage has significant commercial potential, in particular under current global economic conditions'.
Crucially, the northern route to Europe along Siberia's shoreline, 'could cut shipping times between Asian and European ports by about one-third.
'More importantly, the new route will offer favourable opportunities to all Cosco Group's shipping business during the currently sluggish period because it will cut operating costs, fuel consumption and carbon emissions' - according to the company.
All numbers calculated by Frédéric Lasserre in SIG Mapinfo, except the numbers for the Northeast Passage through the Kara Strait south of Novaya Zemlya which have been calculated in Google Earth by Svend Aage Christensen. Picture: Danish Institute for Internatiobal Studies
A year ago we reported how Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, docked in Iceland after a pioneering voyage that could have huge implications for the country's trade with Europe.
'This is the first Chinese ship to sail this route, and of course it is important because it's a more than 40 percent shorter route to Europe,' said Icelandic scientist Egill Thor Nielsson, who was on board of the icebreaker.
'It took almost ten days to sail from the East Siberian Sea and through the Barents Sea, and during that time there was real pack ice for only seven days.'
Expedition leader Huigen Yang, head of the Polar Research Institute of China, said: 'To our astonishment ... the most part of the Northern Sea Route is open'.
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