More Shipping Through The Northwest Passage?

Since the Arctic is melting it’s unlikely to attract much commercial shipping through the Northwest Passage, because it will remain an unreliable route.

There will be no shipping boom in Canada's Arctic according to Jackie Dawson, a geography professor at the University of Ottawa.

"Insurance costs will play a much bigger role in the use of Northwest Passage than climate change. Melting ice would actually make navigating the region more dangerous because large floes would break into smaller chunks and become trapped in the narrow straits of the Canadian archipelago. That would increase the hazards vessels faced in the passage compared with the Northern Sea Route in Russian waters.” Jackie said.

The ice would pose a danger to the safety of ships and there would be a risk of delays if you needed to find a route around the choke points. This would mean much higher insurance costs for ship owners and shippers.

In the last 20 years, the number of ships sailing through the passage has doubled. Although a majority of the increase has been adventure seekers and please craft. There has been a much smaller increase in the number of government ships in the region.

The only commercial ships to sail the passage in recent years were the MS Nordic Orion in 2012 and the MV Nunavik in 2014, which are both ice-strengthened freighters.