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            september 21, 2019

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CMA CGM says no to Northern Sea Route


French shipping giant CMA CGM has announced it will not use the Northern Sea Route (NSR) between Asia and Europe - currently being developed by Russia and China and last year tested by Maersk Line.
The shipping line's head Rodolphe Saade said his firm's ships will not use the NSR above Russia, the Arctic alternative to the busy Asia-EU route through the Suez Canal.
The NSR is opening up for shipping due to decreasing Arctic ice coverage, and its development is a major priority for the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It is a politically-sensitive region - for foreign military vessels, the route is subject to special Russian regulatory measures, even in non-Russian waters - and it is also an environmentally-sensitive Arctic environment, reports The Maritime Executive, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In a statement, CMA CGM emphasised environmental risk in explaining its decision. "Rich in its unique and largely unexplored biodiversity, the Arctic plays an essential role in regulating ocean currents and global climate patterns. The use of the Northern Sea Route will represent a significant danger to the unique natural ecosystems of this part of the world, mainly due to the numerous threats posed by accidents, oil pollution or collisions with marine wildlife."
At present, the route is open without icebreaker escort for about three to four months of the year. It is not served by any transoceanic container services and is not presently considered competitive for this purpose, according to Maersk Line.
Last year, the number-one ocean carrier tested the route for a delivery voyage and said that it did not plan to follow with regular cargoes. "Currently, we do not see the Northern Sea Route as a commercial alternative to our existing network, which is defined by our customers' demand, trading patterns and population centers," the firm said in a statement.
Mr Saade presented CMA CGM's position at a ceremony at the Elysee Palace last Friday attended by French business leaders, French President Emmanuel Macron and several of Macron's ministers.

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