Theoretically, the northern seaway offers enormous reduction in cost and shipping time in the long run. It usually takes about two weeks to travel 6,500 sea miles between Korea and Western Europe. Shipping through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, on the other hand, takes twice as much time as the route is twice as long.
Yet, there are too many problems to resolve before the region’s commercial shipping can truly pick up, not the least of which is the cost. Security and environmental concerns, lack of infrastructure and appropriate ships, legal regulations and permission procedures all contribute to driving up the insurance cost.
“I think one can say the shipping and logistics industry is closely watching what is going on in the Arctic,” Jan-Gunnar Winther of the Norwegian Polar Institute said.