Last year, Beluga Shipping discovered that there’s money in global warming.
Beluga is a German firm that specializes in “super heavy lift” transport. Its vessels are equipped with massive cranes, allowing it to load and unload massive objects, like multiton propeller blades for wind turbines. It is an enormously expensive business, but last summer, Beluga executives hit upon an interesting way to save money: Shipping freight over a melting Arctic.
Beluga had received contracts to send materials on a sprawling trip that would begin in Ulsan, South Korea, head north and west to the Russian port city of Archangelsk-located near the border with Finland-and wind up in Nigeria. Normally, this route requires Beluga’s ships to navigate an 11,000-mile route through the Suez Canal. But in 2008, its executives decided that global warming had eroded the Arctic’s summer sea ice significantly enough that their ships could travel the Northeast Passage along the north coast of Russia. Previously, a cargo ship could only safely navigate that route if an icebreaker went ahead, smashing a route through thick ice.
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