By Nobuo Kozu, President of Ship & Ocean Foundation (SOF), Tokyo, JAPAN

By Willy Østreng, Claes Lykke Ragner and Anne Berteig, INSROP Secretariat, The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI), Lysaker, NORWAY

By Vsevolod I. Peresypkin, Director of Central Marine Research and Design Institute (CNIIMF), St.Petersburg, RUSSIA



By Nobuo Kozu, President of Ship & Ocean Foundation (SOF), Tokyo, JAPAN

 Throughout the ages, the Northern Sea Route, also known as the Northeast Passage, has captured the human imagination. Seafarers put their lives at stake when they set out for these icy waters in their little sailing vessels. The history of Arctic exploration has been a fascinating tale of man’s struggle to expand his known world. It is also a history of geography and of methods of sailing. With the transition from sail to steam, the main ocean routes of world shipping changed radically, and over the past fifty years they have changed again. The volume and patterns of seaborne trade reflect many things: the global distribution of resources, population and location of industries, the characteristics of markets, economic growth rates, political and military factors, as well as short-term meteorological conditions.

 The continuing success of a sea route depends on the existence of suitable commercial ports and efficient inland communications at the ports by road, rail or inland waterways to hinterlands of high production or consumption. The influence of a port will often extend beyond its local surroundings or even national boundaries, stimulating industrial, manufacturing and commercial activities. Commercial voyages have been making tremendous contributions towards our understanding of the ocean and the earth. Even in today’s satellite age, the purely scientific investigations of search voyages still have an important role to play, although the emphasis is increasingly upon knowledge which can be applied to management of ocean resources and the environment, including the promotion of safety at sea.

 The ocean has been seen as the last major frontier on earth – for the exploration, exploitation and development of natural resources and space for human activities to sustain mankind in the future. It is with this in mind that the Northern Sea Route has been developed. Greater use of the Arctic Ocean could become feasible with the development of marine technology to make possible safe, economic voyages in ice-infested waters, as well as the exploitation of natural resources and advances in oceanography, marine geology and earth science as well. These developments will have to be accompanied by concern for their impacts on the natural and ecological environment in case of accident, discharge of waste and other serious disturbance. Recent changes in jurisdiction over maritime zones have established a legal order for the ocean aimed at preserving the marine environment and promoting efficient and peaceful uses of the ocean. This should be the case for the Arctic Ocean as well.

 INSROP, Phases I and II, has been carried out by world experts on the technical, ecological, environmental, economic, political and strategic aspects of the Northern Sea Route. In Phase II, a simulation project was proposed by Ship & Ocean Foundation (SOF) for navigation of cargo vessels conceptually computer-designed for the NSR, to evaluate the feasibility of the route in quantitative terms. Calculations were carried out on the statistical data of the natural conditions along a few commercial routes of the NSR and on the current available data concerning possible commercial shipping. Such a simulation is an important tool that can provide vital information for those dealing with NSR issues.

 This report provides concrete evidence of the assiduous efforts of the many highly knowledgeable people involved in this programme and the close relationships I have enjoyed with numerous NSR scientists and engineers. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Fridtjof Nansen Institute of Norway and to the Central Marine and Design Institute of Russia for their great contributions to INSROP, as well as to all the persons, organizations and countries involved. Special mention should be made of the gratifying support from the Norwegian and Russian sponsors of the programme. Finally I am particularly indebted to the Nippon Foundation, for warm encouragement as well as financial support throughout the INSROP programme.

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By Willy Østreng, Claes Lykke Ragner and Anne Berteig

INSROP Secretariat, The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI), Lysaker, NORWAY

 When INSROP started up in 1993, its task was defined as to build up a scientifically based foundation of knowledge that would encompass all relevant aspects of increased international use of the Northern Sea Route (NSR). The intention was to enable public authorities and private interests to make rational decisions based on scientific insight rather than on hearsay, mythology and insufficient information.

 A great deal has been learnt through the 104 sub-projects carried out during the six years of INSROP research, and a sizeable body of data, previously available only in Russia, has been published internationally for the first time. The results have appeared in an astounding total of 167 INSROP Working Papers that shed light on almost every conceivable aspect of future international shipping on the NSR. In addition, INSROP has published an electronic database of the NSR (INSROP Geographical Information System). The research programme has also resulted in several book publications and articles in peer-review journals. Furthermore, in 1995 INSROP carried out an experimental transit sailing through the NSR, as well as organising a large scientific conference in Tokyo. The Northern Sea Route, previously virtually unheard-of outside Russia, has now become a known entity.

 The main purpose of this INSROP Programme Report is to function as a handbook and guide to INSROP results through the key-word index and summaries of all INSROP Working Papers. We also hope that the address list will help individuals and institutions involved to maintain the network of colleagues and friends acquired through INSROP. In addition, the report documents the quantity and diversity of research carried out within INSROP as well as the generosity of the INSROP sponsors, and the substantial amount of administrative work required to see the programme through.

 One of the most important achievements of INSROP has been to bring together Arctic researchers from 14 countries, and to get them to collaborate despite widely different research fields, languages, cultures and research traditions. The present volume lists all the 468 experts who have contributed to INSROP’s research in one way or another. We extend our heartfelt thanks to every one of them.

 We also wish to acknowledge our debt of gratitude to the INSROP sponsors, who contributed more than NOK 55,000,000 to the programme over a six-year period: the Nippon Foundation / Ship & Ocean Foundation, the Russian Federation, the Research Council of Norway, the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kværner, the Norwegian Regional Development Fund (SND), the Central and Eastern Europe Programme, the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Royal Norwegian Ministry of the Environment, the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Phillips Petroleum Company Norway, the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and Norsk Hydro.

 Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to our Russian and Japanese colleagues and friends in Ship & Ocean Foundation (Tokyo) and Central Marine Research and Design Institute (St. Petersburg), for all the hard work and efforts we have used together in organising INSROP.

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By Vsevolod I. Peresypkin,

Director of Central Marine Research and Design Institute (CNIIMF), St.Petersburg, RUSSIA

Russian investigations on the International INSROP Programme proceeded from the fact that the Northern Sea Route is Russia’s main national transport line in the Arctic. Russia has invested enormous material and human resources in exploring and equipping this route. Powerful icebreakers and icebreaking cargo ships have been constructed, navigational and hydrometeorological systems established. Volumes of the cargo traffic along the NSR reached almost 7 million tonnes a year. Today the NSR stands out as the most economically efficient gateway to the oil and gas deposits of the Russian North, where up to 30% of the world’s hydrocarbon reserves are concentrated.

Unfortunately the reforms being carried out in Russia adversely affected all elements of the economic infrastructure of the North, including its transport component – the Northern Sea Route. Cargo volume decreased to one-third. An especially difficult situation arose in the delivery of fuel, foodstuffs and goods for the population of the North, due to shortcomings in state financial support of cargo delivery. Today, however, measures are being taken at all levels to restore the economy of the Arctic Zone and of its transport system.

Positive changes in international relations in the Arctic have created favourable prerequisites for international cooperation on problems of the Russian Arctic. One notable instance of scientific cooperation on problems of the NSR has been the International INSROP Programme, 1993–98. The scope of this programme was wide-ranging indeed: it was intended to attract the attention of business circles, shippers and shipowners to the Northern Sea Route, to demonstrate economic efficiency of the use of this transport line as compared with the southern alternative for cargo, and in this connection to retain and keep in service the Russian Arctic fleet and icebreakers, preserving the infrastructure of the NSR, providing jobs for the population of Arctic towns, settlements and polar stations, and to secure a profitable operation of the route. The INSROP Programme has also involved the assessment of the potential effects of a higher intensity of navigation on the Arctic environment.

The main results of Russian investigations in the four subprogrammes of INSROP are summed up in the following.

Investigations of natural conditions and ice navigation were based on long-standing Russian hydrometeorological and ice observations in the Arctic. Optimum (as to ice conditions) northern (high latitude) and southern (coastal) seaways along the NSR were selected. Modern marine navigational charts are available for the entire length of the NSR. The navigation system is being improved by the introduction of coastal differential stations of the satellite navigation system GLONASS / GPS along the route. Hydrometeorological services are being developed on the basis of satellite systems for provision of ice and hydrometeorological information. Processing of the information and the transmission of forecasts to users are carried out by the Ice Centre “North” (AARI). Modern navigation and hydrometeorology systems ensure navigational safety on the NSR.

Investigations of ecological factors have been completed by the development of the Dynamic Ecological Atlas, Guidelines for the prevention of the pollution of seas of the NSR from ships, Requirements to coastal reception facilities, Plan of the liquidation of oil spills and Manual for waste treatment aboard. INSROP studies have shown that, despite the anthropogenic impact, the live world of the Arctic is still multiform, and Arctic seas are the cleanest seas of the world ocean. Further monitoring of the Arctic environment is needed in the future as well.

Investigations of trade and commercial aspects of navigation involved first of all assessing the cargo base for the NSR. Potential annual volumes of the most profitable cargo flows along the NSR in the first decade of the 21st century may be as follows:

 For transport of oil and gas condensate, ULA tankers of a deadweight of up to 40 thousand t (draft of up to 11 m) and of 110 thousand t (draft of 15 m) are considered; and for liquefied natural gas, methane carriers with a capacity of 135 thousand m3. For transit transportation, bulkers/container ships with a deadweight of up to 50 thousand t are offered.

 The economic efficiency of transit along the NSR has been proved by the scientific and commercial voyage of the Russian ULA transport ship ‘Kandalaksha‘ in August 1995 along the route Yokohama – NSR – Kirkenes. By using the NSR instead of the traditional southern route, a foreign shipper may speed up the delivery of cargo by 10–15 days, gaining an additional profit for each voyage amounting to $150,000 – 500,000. Russia can get revenues of up to $100,000 for rendering services for the escort of each ship.

 Investigations of political, legal and strategic factors proceeded from the fact that while shifting to a market economy, the role of the State is strengthened. At the regional level, the delimitation of powers concerning control of the NSR between the Centre and subjects of the Russian Federation has been carried out by the conclusion of a series of ‘Agreements‘.

 Assessment of the legal regime of navigation in the Russian Arctic proceeds from the fact that the Northern Sea Route is a historically established Russian national integrated transport line in the Arctic. This circumstance is confirmed by the 1998 Federal Law "On the Internal Sea Waters, Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone". Russian "Regulations for Navigation on the Seaways of the Northern Sea Route", 1991, grant a common legal status to the Northern Sea Route. These regulations are based on the provisions of the 1982 UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (Article 234 "Ice Covered Areas"), which accord a right to coastal states to adopt and assure the observance of non-discriminative laws and regulations on the prevention of marine environment pollution from vessels. The regime of access to the Northern Sea Route of ships of all states which is set by the "Regulations…" complies with the opening of the Northern Sea Route for international navigation. In this case ships should meet special requirements to construction, equipment, supply and crew training.

 At the International Conference of near-Arctic states ‘Development of the Arctic Transport System in the 21st Century‘ (St. Petersburg, 25–26 January 1999) it was considered necessary to embark on the development of the fundamental integrated international programme ‘Arctic Transport System of the 21st Century‘ as the continuation of the INSROP Programme. At the same Conference support was given to the proposal of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute (Norway) on organizing an international project on the development of the transport and technological system of transporting oil and gas from deposits in the Barents Sea and the western Kara Sea.

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