In the view of the insurance industry, virtually none of Russia's administrative institutions or official plans inspire any confidence whatever. This state of affairs makes any kind of venture in Russia hard to insure, and any business plan involving Russia's NSR will be subject to close scrutiny and rigorous examination.
Russian government statistics and information often suffer from a lack of transparency. Although results on navigation of the NSR and adjacent seas stand up to rigorous statistical scrutiny, glasnost is still insufficient in terms of damage and accident data, preventing the reliable design of ships based on hazard estimates and risk analysis. NSR shipping results are only available for Russian vessels, which had been usually traveling on some mission of national interest. Even if all of these data are provided, no examination or analysis can be carried out on the numbers of Western-owned ships in the NSR or their navigational experience. This lack of meaningful statistics undermines the job of underwriters, who form the backbone of the insurance system. Even if the sufficient data were available, the NSR must compete for insurance with other, conventional shipping routes. In the absence of sufficient data, insurance premiums may be set as a multiple of premiums on conventional seaways. This approach makes it difficult to establish the NSR as a competitive sea lane. To prove the commercial viability of the route, icebreaker fees and all indirect NSR shipping expenses have to be calculated with great precision, as the results of the simulation project made clear.
INSROP is also short on data that can be used by the insurance system for examination of individual cases. With so little data on which to base a decision, INSROP insurance researchers were forced to submit their reports containing more questions than answers.
For conventional shipping, insurance is indispensable. Normally, shipping companies submit to insurers the various documents they require. After presenting the required data to the insurers, Russian government and authorities should establish the related infrastructure, navigational support systems, related legislation and tariff systems, respecting the wishes of the insurance industry.
Given the organization of the insurance industry and how it works, it seems clear that the most effective way of evaluating the future of insurance for NSR shipping is to perform experimental voyages on the NSR with non-Russian ships.
6.5 Natural and Biological Environment
(1) Natural environment
Thanks to INSROP's efforts, a vast quantity of Russian data is now published, including a great deal of observational data in the Arctic environment. At the very least, this information has deepened understanding of natural conditions in the vicinity of the NSR. The drawback, however, is that Russian observation technology was to some extent outdated, and data at particular locations or in a continuous time series are almost totally lacking. In the eastern half of the NSR especially, because of the forbidding natural conditions, data (especially winter data) are scarce indeed.
If one looks at the NSR as a summer shipping route only, this shortage of winter data is not fatal, at least in the first stages of inquiry. It becomes problematic when research reaches the phase of asking how long the summer shipping season can be extended. Although satellite remote sensing data are also available, current problems of resolution versus coverage persist as mentioned earlier, and these data, at least from an academic point of view are not appreciably effective in the assessment and measurement of phenomena dependent on the vertical structure of the ocean.