Russia on Saturday launched an enormous new nuclear powered ice breaker, named the Ural, from its shipyard in St. Petersburg, hoping to take advantage of global warming with regards to expanded Arctic shipping and oil exploration.
The ship is one of three in the series that will be built. The Ural is to be followed by the Sibir and the Arktik. It is also part of a 13-ice breaker fleet outlined by President Vladimir Putin, who said in April that they fleet would include nine nuclear powered and four conventionally powered ships by 2035.
“The Ural, together with its sisters, are central to our strategic project of opening the NSR (northern sea route) to all-year activity,” said Rosatom Chief Executive Alexey Likhachev.
Global warming may provide for Russia the solution to the centuries-old pursuit of the so-called “Northwest Passage” that was one motivation for global circumlocution that lead to the discovery of North America. An unexpected continent that offered no convenient waterway through or around thwarted the search for a shortcut to Asia from Europe.
In addition, estimates say the Arctic region holds 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves, according to a Reuters report. Along with that, the region holds the equivalent of 412 billion barrels of oil in reserves that are known.
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