Rapidly melting sea ice has opened up a potential new Arctic shipping lane through the North Pole, which will give powerful nations easier access to the vast riches of the frozen zone, but has also sparked fears of war.
The Arctic Council predicts that during the summers sea ice will disappear by 2040, allowing for a new major seasonal passage. This Transpolar Sea Route (TSR) would be the fastest way to get around the region and could boost mining, drilling and trade over the next quarter century.
Territorial issues remain to be settled. The E. cars and satellites. China, meanwhile, is claiming “near-Arctic” status so that it too can benefit from the region’s wealth.
Today is a pivotal moment that will reshape the energy market and the supply chain,” said Rebekah Koffler, intelligence analyst and author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America.”
“The Arctic is going to be the future battleground for economic dominance and possession of natural resources.”
The new passage, which stretches for about 2,000 nautical miles and was first crossed in 2012, is currently only navigable with high-level icebreaker vessels.
But if the melting ice made it more easily traversable, the TSR would offer lower costs and delivery times, especially to Europe and Asia. It is hoped that tankers and cargo carriers will be able to navigate over land using the TSR in the summer, saving more travel time than the two main coastal waterways that currently connect the Arctic to southern ports. .
“You could see a ship being sent just over the North Pole as early as 2035,” said Marc Lanteigne, an Arctic researcher in Norway. “Floating pack ice is still a danger, but the degree of danger is decreasing every year.”
Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the United States under President Biden are among nine nations vying for control of the Arctic, where rapidly rising temperatures could make the region now covered in ice navigable every summer as early as 2040 .
But the new crossing could also heighten tensions between the nations.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country would “break the teeth” of any foreign adversary who challenged its sovereignty over any territory it claims. Although he didn’t specifically name the Arctic, Russia is currently accumulating a formidable array of military weapons in the region, including the Poseidon 2M39, a nuclear-powered stealth torpedo dubbed the “super-weapon.”
Days after Putin’s comments, President Biden warned that climate change could “generate potential conflict in terms of Arctic dominance.”
“The distance between Russia and NATO countries in the Arctic has been reduced to around 100 miles,” Koffler added. “And everyone is postulating for dominance. The US military says we will dominate the region, but the Russians have their own strategy. They scream that they are going to be the only non-NATO country in the Arctic group. And China has joined the fight. They are trying to exploit the Arctic as a major shipping route.
For now, crossing the Arctic still requires an icebreaker like this Russian giant, the first to transport natural gas in 2018.
Until now, commercial shippers from the United States, Canada and Western Europe have relied on the Northwest Passage (NWP), which was opened wide in 2007. The Northern Sea Route (NSR ), which began in 2017, is dominated by Russia.
Up for grabs is better access to a region that holds 13% of the world’s untapped oil and 30% of its drillable natural gas, according to the US Geological Survey.
There are also around $1 trillion worth of metals and minerals, ranging from gold and silver to beryllium, cadmium and lithium, all in high demand due to the explosive growth of personal electronics and electric battery cars.
Although navigation, mining, drilling and fishing rights have been established along the Arctic coastal waterways for each country, none have been established for the entire Arctic. And that led to bitter arguments.
Source: New York Post