In order to enable clear and specific proposals for the type of shipping framework needed and to identify needed improvements for Phase II of INSROP, a design study and cost simulation were carried out for future NSR cargo ships larger than the SA-15, taking into account trends in the international shipping market We present the results of these studies and conclude with an assessment of the viability of a commercial shipping lane through the NSR.
4.4.1 Changes in Shipping Volume
NSR shipping reached its highest volume in history in 1987, at 6.58 million metric tons. Since that time, NSR shipping has been in steady decline (Table 4.4-1). With the exception of a slight upturn in 1995 against the previous year, the slide is unbroken. Volume reached 2.36 million metric tons in 1995, then tumbled to 1.64 million metric tons in 1996-less than a quarter of the volume at the NSR's 1987 peak. The main reason for the boost in volume in the late 1980s was the development of natural resources. In the west, the increase in domestic shipping volume was supported by the exploitation of oil and gas, along with copper, nickel and scarce metals in Norilsk; in the east, scarce and other non-ferrous metals, including gold, were shipped from Chukotka and Yakutia, but their volume was much lower than in the west. Table 4.4-2 shows a breakdown of the imports and exports item in Table 4.4-1. Exports of nickel and other metals from Norilsk began in 1968 and reached 2.5 million metric tons, comprising 40% of total shipments. In 1976 gas fields began to be exploited in the Yamal Peninsula, and by 1988 a cumulative total of 102,000 metric tons had been produced. In connection with this project, pipeline construction equipment was exported from Japan. Timber from Siberia, derived chiefly from the Igarka area, trended in the neighborhood of 700,000-750,000t in the 1980s. These exports peaked in 1990 at 1.2 million metric tons, then dropped significantly in 1991 and 1992 before rising again in 1993. Although the table does not indicate it, in 1996 a precipitous decline in timber shipping occurred. This is because the trade was suspended when a change in the system of taxation rendered lumber exports from Igarka and Tiksi unprofitable. Imports stayed at an extremely low level until the early 1990s, when gas exports from the Yamal Peninsula stimulated a burst of imports, including 57,000t of machinery and foodstuffs in 1994. The figures in Tables 4.4-1and 4.4-2 are derived from Russian statistics; please note that some inconsistency exists among the various items in the tables. In any event, amid the present economic and political instability in Russia it is difficult to forecast the future state of NSR logistics and reach a firm decision on the basis of these figures.
Table 4.4-1 Dynamics and directions of NSR cargo shipment, 1945-1995 (Unit: 1,000t)