The Northern Sea Route: A viable option for the Norwegian shipping industry?

Stian Sagbakken & Karina Raatræ

Student thesis: Master thesis


Abstract: Global warming is causing Arctic sea ice to melt and previously ice-covered seas are now opening up for commercial navigation. Consequently shipping companies have started to consider the potential to find shorter transit routes between Europe and Asia. It has been argued that the Northern Sea Route holds the potential to become a viable alternative to the Suez Canal for cargo shipments between Europe and Asia. In theory this route can offer a distance saving as high as 50 per cent, and no country is more conveniently located to take advantage of this than Norway. The purpose of this thesis is to examine whether the Northern Sea Route is a viable option, and how the Norwegian shipping industry best can position itself to take advantage of the potential opportunities this offers. To be able to examine this, we first characterize the main benefits and challenges related to the Northern Sea Route. This is followed by an examination of the basis of the Norwegian Shipping industry’s competitive advantage. Our conclusion is that the Northern Sea Route currently is not a viable option; however it is likely to be a viable option in the future. Accordingly, the Norwegian shipping industry should acquire the necessary knowledge and expertise through close collaboration with knowledgeable representatives from the maritime cluster in Norway. The Norwegian shipping industry is well positioned to be able to benefit from the highly knowledge intensive cluster they are a part of. This will further enable the Norwegian shipping industry to be well prepared if and when the route becomes more viable.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages138