HMM Plans Arctic Shipping for 2020

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Hyundai Merchant Marine, South Korea’s largest container carrier, is seeking to sail through Arctic Ocean routes north of Russia as early as 2020.

If successful, HMM would be the first container shipping company to carry cargo through the maritime routes on a regular basis.

“Hyundai is expected to explore the routes, using 2,500 to 3,500 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) ships,” an industry source told The Korean Times.

The Arctic route will shorten a 40-day journey through the Indian Ocean and Suez Canal to reach Europe down to 30 days, cutting shipping costs between July and October – the only time that it would be possible with help from icebreakers.

However, global warming means that the route could be available all year round by 2030 due to the thawing of ice sheets.

The South Korean government may require the assistance of Russia to ensure that operations go smoothly as it owns the most ice-breakers in the world.

It is in the interest of the country's government to help develop the project as HMM is supported by the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB).

Analysts at Alphaliner recently reported that plans to consolidate South Korea's shipping companies into one partnership would not be enough to survive in a heavily consolidated shipping sector.

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