Scenarios for the Arctic to 2020

(from AMSA Report 2009)


Arctic natural resource development (hydrocarbons, hard minerals and fisheries) and regional trade are the key drivers of future Arctic marine activity. However, there are many other factors and uncertainties of importance including governance, Arctic state cooperation, oil prices, changes in global trade, climate change variability, new resource discoveries, marine insurance industry roles, multiple use conflicts and Arctic marine technologies.

Future Arctic marine activity will include many non-Arctic stakeholders, multiple users in Arctic waterways and potential overlap of new operations with indigenous uses. Arctic voyages through 2020 will be overwhelmingly destinational, not trans Arctic.

A lack of major ports, except for those in northern Norway and northwest Russia, and other critical infrastructure will be significant limitations for future Arctic marine operations.

The Bering Strait region, ringed with indigenous communities and a highly productive ecosystem with many species of marine mammals, fish and seabirds, may require formally established vessel routing measures. Offshore hydrocarbon developments may lead to increased marine traffic in the Bering Strait region.

For the Canadian Arctic, the Northwest Passage is not expected to become a viable trans-Arctic route through 2020, but destinational shipping is anticipated to increase.

Marine transportation of oil from the Pechora Sea to Europe is considered technically and economically feasible; the volume of oil and gas may be as high as 40 million tons per year by 2020 on the western Northern Sea Route.


  •  1. Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment Report 2009

Arctic Council, 2009, Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA), Arctic Council.©

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