Arctic regions, and thus ice-covered waters, are continuously getting higher in the national and international political agenda. The world demand in energy resources and the need in development of new transportation routes are pushing industrial activities up North where we see prospects and expectations on one side, and gaps and challenges on the other. Industrial development of the new geographic area is complex, and the priority in transportation is given to marine shipping. For the recent years, transit cargo shipping through the North Eastern Passage or the Northern Sea Route (NSR) increased more than 10 times from 0.11 million tons (4 passages) in 2010 to 1.36 million tons (71 passages) in 2013. Although, the numbers are small compared to global cargo shipping, the sensitive Arctic environment requires the establishment of a oil spill recovery system as well as risk mitigation measures. This, in turn, requires the preceding development of a risk assessment methodology for oil spills in ice-covered waters. Therefore, this paper presents the challenges involved in Arctic shipping along the NSR and identifies the knowledge gaps with respect to environmental risk assessment of accidental oil spill.

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