In a move that blatantly disregards the impacts of climate change, shipping companies are taking advantage of melting Arctic ice to cut transportation times for petroleum products. Channel News Asia reports that Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines recently announced plans to create the world’s first shipping route through the Arctic Ocean starting in 2018. The company would be mainly shipping liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia’s Yamal project to markets in Europe and Asia using three specially designed icebreakers for transport. The route is expected to trim 10 days of travel time from the current route through the Suez Canal.
“The shorter distance would be good for buyers, by cutting shipping costs and reducing other risks,” Yu Nagatomi an economist at Tokyo’s Institute of Energy Economics told the Wall Street Journal (as quoted by Grist).
The Arctic is a hot area of international interest these days, as rapidly-melting ice opens up these new transportation routes that were previously impassable. Last year 71 ships crossed the Arctic Ocean between Europe and Asia, up from just four in 2010. The melting of ice also provides access for companies to exploit the now ice-free area for more natural resources. According to Channel News Asia, the Arctic is believed to hold about 22 percent of the world’s unexplored conventional oil and gas resources – creating a climate double-whammy brought on by global warming and human hunger for petroleum products.