A gas tanker followed by three ice breakers left Murmansk on Saturday carrying gas condensate for China. The journey will take two weeks, and the crew will collect data on ice conditions in the area.
This is the first time a high-tonnage tanker has travelled from Europe to Asia via the Northern Sea Route. Sailing along this route is viewed as increasingly attractive by shipping companies, as the ice appears to be retreating and this provides a longer shipping period.
The data collected by the crew will help to estimate the commercial benefit of using this route.
A mining company based in Kirkenes, on the West Coast of Norway is planning to send a shipment of iron ore con to China on the Northern Sea route.
Murmansk to China is just a little more than 7000 sea miles via this route, while the distance along the southern route is more than 12000 miles.