The German company Bremenports has concluded an agreement with Icelandic authorities and the Icelandic engineering company Elfa on a feasibility study of a large, deep-water harbor to facilitate international Arctic shipping and petroleum activity.
The harbor is planned to be located in Finnafjörður on the North-eastern point of Iceland.
Preparations for construction have started, Robert Howe, Managing Director of Bremenports said at the Arctic Circle 2015 assembly in Reykjavik on Friday.
"Safe and sustainable shipping in the Arctic needs concrete projects, this is one of them," Howe said.
Bremenports is investing ISK 450 million (€2.2 million) in the preparations, website Islandsbloggen writes.
The port will have three main purposes: a base port for oil and gas operations in the Arctic, a hub port for trans-Arctic shipping, and a service port for both offshore petroleum activity and Arctic shipping. The plans for the port include LNG bunkering facilities and a search and rescue base.
The first weather stations were put up in the planned area for the harbour in August 2015. Further research and planning will take place in 2016-2017. This part of the preparations include studies of wave regime, sea floor conditions, sedimentation and erosion, as well as examination of the flora and fauna and documentation of archeologically relevant objects in the area.
"This fjord is very suitable for safe shipping infrastructure in the Arctic," Howe said. The northeastern shores of Iceland are ideal for a port for shipping along the Transpolar Sea Route, a future Arctic shipping lane running from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean across the center of the Arctic Ocean. Due to the increasing decline of Arctic sea ice extent, the route is expected to emerge as the predominant Arctic shipping route by 2030.
In contrast to the Northern Sea Route and Northwest Passage, the Transpolar Sea Route largely avoids the territorial waters of Arctic states and lies in international high seas.
New ice-free and safe hubs are needed at both ends of this route. They could be located in Alaska and Iceland, the developers believe.
This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch News as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.