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The Northern Sea Route vs. the Suez Canal Route - An economic analysis incorporating probabilistic simulation optimization of vessel speed


Way, B and Khan, FI and Veitch, B, The Northern Sea Route vs. the Suez Canal Route - An economic analysis incorporating probabilistic simulation optimization of vessel speed, Proceedings of the ASME 2015 34th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering, OMAE 2015, 31 May - 5 June 2015, St John's, Canada, pp. 1-11. ISBN 9780791856567 (2015) [Refereed Conference Paper]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 ASME

DOI: doi:10.1115/OMAE2015-42054


While previous studies have examined the economics of shipping from Europe to Asia via the Northern Sea Route (NSR) versus the Suez Canal Route (SCR), most have not adequately accounted for the variability in input parameters such as the cost of fuel or the amount of ice encountered on a voyage. Furthermore, no prior study has attempted to utilize speed optimization as part of the analysis.

Because the rate fuel consumption for propulsion is intrinsically linked with vessel speed, reducing speed can create the potential for large savings in fuel costs, along with the added benefit of reduced emissions. However, the reduced speed means a longer transit time, meaning increases in other time based costs, such as daily pay for a ship's crew. The question then becomes what is the optimal speed?

This paper examines the use of speed optimization to determine whether it is potentially more profitable for a container shipping company to ship from Rotterdam to Yokohama through the SCR year round (Option A) or to ship through the NSR during the months it is passable while using the SCR for the remainder of the year (Option B). A probabilistic model is presented to determine average per trip profits for both options A and B. This model is used in conjunction with a simulation optimization technique to determine the optimum speeds to maximize average per trip profitability for each option. The results show that probabilistic simulation optimization of vessel speed may better inform shipping companies as to the financial impacts of the speeds that they choose to use for shipping and thus enable better decision making as it pertains to both route choice and ships' speeds. The analysis indicates that speed optimized container shipping year round through the Suez Canal appears to be the more profitable of the 2 options.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:Arctic engineering, containers, cost reduction, costs, decision making, economic analysis, economics, fuels, hydraulic structures, profitability, sailing vessels, ship propulsion, ships, transportation routes, container shippings, financial impacts
Research Division:Economics
Research Group:Applied economics
Research Field:Transport economics
Objective Division:Transport
Objective Group:Water transport
Objective Field:International sea freight transport (excl. live animals, food products and liquefied gas)
UTAS Author:Khan, FI (Professor Faisal Khan)
ID Code:120673
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:NC Maritime Engineering and Hydrodynamics
Deposited On:2017-08-30
Last Modified:2022-11-08

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