Arctic frictions create business for icebreaker industry

Reviving the North Sea Route requires a lot of financial investment and specific technological innovations. Despite “friction points,” several countries including the United States, Canada and Russia have been carrying out intensive task in the Arctic region for years to explore and develop in the long term natural resources deposits, mostly oil, gas and minerals.

The Arctic holds an estimated 13% (90 billion barrels) of the world’s undiscovered conventional oil resources and 30% of its undiscovered conventional natural gas resources, according to an assessment conducted in 2008 by the US Geological Survey (USGS). Also, further developments in the region are likely to threaten the Arctic vulnerable ecosystem that has an impact on the world environment’s health.

As the Canadian military is currently participating in military drill Arctic Bison 2017 around Gimli, Manitoba with a view to training troops and reaffirming Canada’s sovereignty on the area, US President Donald Trump is facing some pressure from GOP elected officials on the need to actively defend US interests in the Arctic.

In a February 21, 2017 letter to the White House, the chairman the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Rep. Duncan Hunter wrote that the US needs to project power in the region like building ice-breaking ships (US allegedly has just 2 while Russia has 40), and not let Russia fully free of doing whatever it wants over there.

“We’re late to the game,” acknowledged Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska. Indeed, more than 20 percent of Russia’s landmass lies above the Arctic Circle and the Arctic region is therefore one of Russia’s strategic priorities. On February 22, 2017, the US Coast Guard awarded five firm fixed-price contracts for heavy polar icebreaker design studies and analysis, worth a total USD 20 million.