The Ob River Is Delivering Natural Gas From Norway to Japan, Via the Arctic Ocean
A tanker carrying liquified natural gas is attempting to become the first ship of its type to sail across the Arctic Ocean. The trip will take the tanker from Norway, where it set sail in November 2012, to Japan, via Russia. The ship is called the Ob River.
Built in 2007 with a strengthened hull, the Ob River can carry up to 150,000 cubic meters of gas. The tanker was loaded with LNG at Hammerfest in the north of Norway on 7 November and set sail across the Barents Sea. It has been accompanied by a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker for much of its voyage.
The route taken by the ship, which has a crew of 40, is about 40% shorter than the usual voyage to Japan.
There is an expectation that because of changing climactic conditions, sea traffic across the northern sea route will increase rapidly. 2012 has been a record year both for the length of the sailing season and also for the amount of cargo that has been shipped.
As ice recedes, new routes are opening through the northern seas. Some 19,000 ships went though the Suez canal last year and only about 40 through the northern sea route. But things are changing.