Join our crew and become one of the 105,176 members that receive our newsletter.

oil tanker vlcc ship shipping

Oil tanker at dusk, file image (c) Shutterstock/Zacarias Pereira da Mata

Russia Sends Oil Through the Arctic Again to Speed Up Delivery to China

Total Views: 3312
July 19, 2023

(Bloomberg) —

Russia is sending a rare cargo of crude oil through the Arctic Sea to China, a move that will fan environmental concerns even if it means cheaper delivery costs for the nation’s petroleum.

The Aframax-class tanker Primorsky Prospect is heading north up the coast of Norway, showing its destination as Rizhao in China, where it’s due to arrive on Aug. 12. It is one of a handful of tracked cargoes on the route.

European Union sanctions have forced Russia to seek new markets for its crude. Those are mostly in China and India, adding thousands of miles to delivery times and making freight more costly. 

While that might make the shorter Arctic route appealing, there has long been opposition to using the sea for merchant shipping. Organizations including the UN’s intergovernmental body for climate change have said doing so could have negative consequences for the region, including higher emissions and threats to marine ecosystems.

Using the so-called Northern Sea Route, or NSR, through the Arctic waters off Russia’s northern coast, could shave as much as two weeks, or about 30%, off the voyage compared with the southern route through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal.

The vessel, built in 2010 and owned by Russia’s Sovcomflot, loaded about 730,000 barrels of Urals crude at the Baltic port of Ust-Luga on July 11-12, according to ship tracking data monitored by Bloomberg.

Eastbound navigation along Russia’s Northern Sea Route halted for winter on Nov. 30. 

A previous cargo was sent last year, shortly before the route became impassable. At least two tankers went through in 2019.

Rosatom, which operates the NSR, and Russia’s oil producers are studying a possible redirection of crude shipments from Baltic ports through the Arctic.

Meanwhile Novatek, which operates LNG projects on Russia’s Arctic coast, plans to begin year-round eastbound navigation via the Northern Sea Route at the start of 2024.

–With assistance from Sherry Su.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

Monthly Insights from the Helm

Dive into a sea of information with our meticulously curated weekly “Dispatch” email. It’s more than just a newsletter; it’s your personal maritime briefing.

Sign Up
Back to Main
polygon icon polygon icon

Why Join gCaptain Club?

Be Informed: Stay updated with the latest maritime news and trends.

Connect: Network with a community of maritime professionals and enthusiasts.

Gain Insights: Receive exclusive content and personal perspectives from our CEO.

Sign Up


Maritime and offshore news trusted by our 105,176 members delivered daily straight to your inbox.

gCaptain’s full coverage of the maritime shipping industry, including containerships, tankers, dry bulk, LNG, breakbulk and more.