S. Korea to launch shipping service on North Pole sea route

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-9-12 16:38:38

A South Korean shipping company is set to launch a shipping service via a new North Pole shipping route emerged as a result of the melting Arctic sea ice, Yonhap news agency quoted the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries as saying Thursday.

A ship of the country's Hyundai Glovis Corporation, carrying 44, 000 tons of naphtha, will set sail from Russia's Ust-Luga port on Sunday. It is expected to arrive in South Korea's Gwangyang port in mid-October.

The Arctic passage will cut the trip from the South Korea to northern European countries by up to 15 days, compared to 40 days when using the conventional shipping route through the Indian Ocean and the Suez Canal.

More Arctic shipping routes are expected to open up due to global warming in the once-frozen seas. But most of the routes are currently only accessible to ice-breakers.

A Swedish vessel will take this voyage because no South Korean shipping company owns an ice-breaker. The country launched the first-ever ice-breaker Araon in 2010, which is mostly applied to scientific research and rescue missions.

The ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said although the transit across the Arctic remains highly seasonal, limited to only four months in a year, more opportunities lie ahead as lots of Arctic development projects are underway.

This new voyage will offer South Korea opportunities to explore how to operate an Arctic route in extreme conditions, according to the ministry.

South Korea government in July rolled out a set of measures to gain a stronger foothold in the Arctic region in terms of promoting scientific research and joining international cooperation in the resource-rich region.

The country will make greater efforts in monitoring climate change in the Arctic region and studying its impact on the Korean Peninsula and the world, according to the ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

The move came after South Korea, along with China, India, Japan, Singapore and Italy were granted permanent observer status in the Arctic Council in May.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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