The volume of cargo transported via Russia's Northern Sea Route (NSR) is constantly growing and could top expectations by the end of the year, said Director General of the State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom Alexey Likhachev.
Rosatom is an infrastructure operator for the route.
"The plan for this year's freight traffic along the Northern Sea Route was 29 million tons, but today our forecast is that it will exceed 32 million tons," Likhachev told Rossiya 24 TV channel. Earlier, he said that by 2024 the volume of freight transportation via the NSR could reach 92.6 million tons.
The NSR, which stretches the entire length of Russia's Arctic and Far East regions, is expected to become a major trade route for goods shipped between Europe and Asia.
According to President Vladimir Putin, the route is "the key to the development of the Russian Arctic regions of the Far East," and the goal is to make it a "truly global, competitive transport artery."
Putin plans on having NSR cargo traffic significantly increase up to 80 million tons a year. Ships will mainly transport liquefied natural gas, oil, and coal.
The Arctic route from Southeast Asia to Europe cuts transportation time in half, compared to traditional routes through the Suez and Panama canals. In Soviet times, it was used mainly to supply goods to isolated settlements in the Arctic.