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            october 22, 2019

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Maersk in icebreaker talks for second voyage over Russia in September


Maersk Line, the world's biggest container shipping company, is reconsidering its rejection of the Asia-Europe Northern Sea Route over Russia by discussing the possibility of a September voyage with icebreaker escorts, reports High North News, of Bodo, Norway.
This after dismissing the idea after the voyage of the 3,500-TEU Venta Maersk last summer. "We do not see the Northern Sea Route (NSR) as a viable commercial alternative to existing east-west routes," said Maersk chief technical officer Palle Laursen at the time.
But High North News says Maersk is currently discussing a cooperation with Atomflot, the country's primary operator of icebreakers.
As recently as last month Maersk discounted its interest in operating along the route, it now confirms to High North News that it is exploring the possibility of offering a service on the route in cooperation with Russia's Atomflot.
In conversations with High North News, the company stated that it "has experienced a growing demand for transport of goods from the Far East to West Russia, which we are currently exploring the possibility of offering together with Atomflot".
Maersk CEO Soren Skou, who spoke to reporters at ther recent International Economic Forum (IEF) in St Petersburg, said the company is exploring the possibility of cargo deliveries between ports of the Far East and St Petersburg during third quarter of 2019.
"Basically it will be Russian goods that will be shipped from the east of the country to the west and vice versa, for example, frozen fish or imported goods from China," he told reporters at the IEF, according to Russian news reports.
Maersk's competition with Cosco may also play a role in the company's change of plans.
"With Cosco already planning 14 NSR transits this summer, Maersk may feel obligated to offer NSR sailings as well simply in the interest of preserving market share - or at least not ceding it to a strategic rival without a fight," said Ryan Uljua, senior fellow at Washington DC's Arctic Institute.

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