Neste Oil ships operate successfully along the Northeast Passage
Two Neste Oil tankers successfully traversed the Northeast Passage between Murmansk and the Pacific Ocean in August and September this year. Only a few vessels including Neste Oil's ships have operated along the route this year. The first Neste Oil tanker to traverse the route was the MT Stena Poseidon, which carried a customer's cargo along the Northeast Passage and onwards to South Korea. She was followed by the MT Palva, which delivered a customer's cargo to a port in China.
The very challenging ice conditions along the route, which follows Russia's northern Arctic coastline, limit its use, and the route continues to be open to traffic for only a couple of months in the summer. Neste Oil's extensive maritime expertise, decades of experience in navigating in ice-bound waters, and fleet of ice-strengthened ships, one of the largest in the world, give the company a clear edge in shipping along the Northeast Passage.
"Neste Oil has a long history of taking on the challenges of the Northeast Passage," says Niko Ristikankare, Vice President of the company's Shipping & Terminals Unit. "The MT Uikku was the first Western commercial vessel to traverse the route back in 1997. Thanks to our Arctic expertise and our modern fleet, we are excellently placed to handle commercial operations along the Northeast Passage."
The Russian authorities require that all ships operating along the route are ice-classified and fitted with additional equipment, such as radios approved for use in Arctic areas and a spare propeller blade. Bunkers and provisions sufficient for 30 days at sea are also required because of the unpredictable nature of ice conditions along the route.
Potential to halve shipping times
The approx. 6,250 nautical miles or 11,500 kilometers covered by the Stena Poseidon and Palva from Murmansk to the Pacific took around 20 days at a speed of 13 knots. The alternative route through the Suez Canal is twice as long and takes twice as long as a result. Using the much shorter Northeast Passage offers both reduced fuel consumption and reduced overall emissions.
"Our journey from Murmansk to the Bering Strait took nine days, escorted by a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker and a local ice pilot," says Jari Leino, Captain of the Stena Poseidon. "We spotted ice along the route but were able to avoid the larger floes thanks to the open water conditions that prevailed this summer. All in all, it was a unique experience."