India’s Interest Arctic Region and the Northern Sea Route
- The NSR, the shortest shipping route for freight transportation between Europe and countries of the Asia-Pacific region, straddles the Four Seas (Barents, Kara, Laptev and East Siberian Sea) of the Arctic Ocean.
- Running 5,600 km, the Route begins at the boundary between the Barents and the Kara Seas (Kara Strait) and ends in the Bering Strait (Provideniya Bay).
- It offers potential distance savings of up to 50% compared to traditional routes through the Suez or Panama Canal.
- The 2021 Suez Canal Blockage heightened interest in the NSR as an alternative trade route.
- India’s engagement with the Arctic dates back to the signing of the Svalbard Treaty in 1920.
- India has conducted various scientific studies and research in the region, focusing on atmospheric, biological, marine, hydrological, and glaciological studies.
- Murmansk, popularly called the capital of the Arctic Region and the beginning point of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), is witnessing the rising trend of Indian involvement in Cargo traffic.
- In the first seven months of 2023, India got a share of 35% of eight million tonnes of cargo handled by the Murmansk port, which is about 2,000 km northwest of Moscow, Russia.
- The region constitutes the largest unexplored prospective area for hydrocarbons remaining on the earth. It is estimated that the region may hold over 40% of the current global reserves of oil and gas.
- The region has rich deposits of coal, gypsum and diamonds and also substantial reserves of zinc, lead, placer gold and quartz.