Future shipping activities depend considerably on the expansion rate of the oil-and-gas related industry in the northern areas, which in turn depends on both regional and global economic developments. Global warming and a subsequent increase of ice-free shipping routes through Arctic waters could also significantly contribute to increase shipping traffic.
Arctic development issues are in focus in Russia. Some years ago, major Russian oil companies had ambitious plan to build a 100 million ton trunk oil pipeline from the Western Siberia to Murmansk. The project did not go through, but new initiatives on development of Russian railways, Arctic ports and the Northern Sea Route came into the agenda. During the next 5 years, the northern Timano-Pechora oil fields (Yuzhno Khylchuyu and others) and Varandey terminal will transport about 10 million tons of crude a year and play a major role in oil shipments increase from the Russian Barents. The Prirazlomnaya platform should come on place in the Pechora Sea and produce 7 million tons of oil that will be shipped for export. When the newly adopted plan for development of Murmansk Transportation Complex is realised, we will see more oil and refined products coming north by the railway. The Table 4.4.6 gives an overview of existed and prospected capacities of the main terminals shipping Russian crude oil and petroleum products for export.
Table 4.4.6. Existing and prospected capacities of main Arctic terminals offloading Russian crude oil and petroleum products for export (in thousands tons) (Bambulyak and Frantzen 2009).
Terminal locations Capacity
2002 2008 2015
Ob Bay, Kara Sea 500’ 600’ 3 000’
Varandey, Pechora Sea 1 500’ 12 500’ 12 500’
Prirazlomnoye, Pechora Sea - - 7 500’
Arkhangelsk, White Sea 2 500’ 4 500’ 7 000’
Vitino, White Sea 4 000’ 10 000’ 12 000’
Teriberka (LNG), Barents Sea - - 7 500’
Murmansk, Barents Sea 2 000’ 8 000’ 8 000’
Mokhnatkina Pakhta, Barents Sea - 2 500’ 5 000’
Lavna, Barents Sea - - 25 000’
Pechenga, Barents Sea - - 30 000’
The LNG plant at Melkøya has begun to ship gas condensates, although certain challenges still prevent full-scale production. A gradual stepping up of production towards full capacity is expected. The prognoses for natural gas production at Melkøya are very uncertain, but one expects that about 5 million tons of LNG, LPG and condensate can be shipped out per year when the plant is running at full capacity. This would result in about 70 annual shipments of natural gas from Melkøya.
An increasing share of container ships and bulk cargo can be expected if the published plans for the development of the terminals in the Murmansk region and/or Narvik are realised (Bambulyak and Frantzen 2009).
From 2012 and the next five years several gas and oil fields might come on stream. Seen from the west Goliat is planned to go on stream in late 2013, Prirazlomnoye about the same time, then Shtokman and in the Kara Sea, huge gas fields on Yamal (Bovanenkovo and others) might ship gas and condensate from Kharasavey if the proposed LNG-terminal is built.
From 2014 (at the earliest), shipments of LNG and gas condensates from the Shtokman field in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea are expected. This is the world's largest known offshore gas field to be set in commercial production, with a planned production level in the first phase of 22.5 billion m3 of natural gas that will be split and partly pumped south to Nord Stream pipeline, and partly shipped as LNG. This will involve 280 annual shipments of natural gas through the area. The prognoses for the second and the third construction phases are uncertain, but the Russian company Gazprom estimates that the output can be increased to 70 billion m3 per year.
No significant changes are expected in the volume of ship traffic due to fishery activities in the area. There are considerable seasonal variations in the fishing industry. This applies especially to the maritime fishing fleet with its large cruising range.
The forecasts for future volumes of dangerous goods shipments are not clear, and depend on whether or not Russia decides to shift the focus of its oil exports towards the USA. Assuming that Europe remains the primary market for Russian oil, there are estimates that forecast a linear increase from 15 million tons in 2010 to 50 million tons in 2025. Another forecast, assuming that USA becomes the primary market, estimates a gradual increase from 15 million tons in 2010 to up to 100 million tons after 2020.
Container ships are a rather new phenomenon in this region. These vessels are becoming increasingly larger, and they carry large amounts of bunker fuel. Container ships are more vulnerable to bad weather and high seas, especially with regard to shifting cargo. An increase in traffic of this type of vessel might thus implies a higher risk of acute pollution events unless considerable measures are put in place to mitigate this.
Shipping traffic will increase in correlation with petroleum activities in the region. If the extent of petroleum activities increases considerably, the volume of petroleum-related shipping traffic will also increase, and as a consequence also the risk of acute pollution from this traffic, unless considerable measures are put in place to mitigate this.
The Ballast Water Management Convention signed in 2004 regulates discharges of Ballast water and sediments. This is not in force, but early implementation and the general increase in awareness of the problems associated with ballast water, are expected to reduce the risk of negative impacts on the environment. It is much more difficult to reduce the risk of introduction of alien species attached to ships’ hulls. This is because the most effective anti-fouling systems themselves have negative impacts on the environment. IMO have recently started discussing regulation of organisms attached to ships hulls.
Risk of accidental discharges
See also chapter Current and expected state of the ecosystem - Human activities /impact - Pollution.
In the Norwegian management plan for the Norwegian part of the Barents Seas (Report no 8 to the Storting) there is given a qualitative comparison of risk levels by analyses of the current situation (2005) and activity scenarios for 2020. The maritime transport currently involves a higher level of risk exposure in the management plan area than the expected risk exposure from all planned activities in 2020. However, this conclusion was based on assumptions relating to knowledge development, technological advances and the introduction of traffic separation schemes between 2005 and 2020 in line with existing plans in 2005, and may be affected by new, currently unplanned activities. Despite the expected increase in the volume of maritime transport by 2020, the analyses indicated that the implementation of measures such as a minimum sailing distance from the coast, traffic separation schemes and vessel traffic service centres will reduce the risk of oil spills associated with maritime transport by half from 2003 to 2020, and that the environmental consequences in 2020 will be comparable with those in 2003.