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Lloyd’s guidelines to “complement” Polar Code

Insurance regulations would help develop common ice regime in face of lacking information and competing national guidelines
Lloyd’s hopes its guidelines will point the way when the Polar Code comes up short

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Even as the UN is preparing international guidelines for polar shipping, insurer Lloyd’s of London says it plans to release its own regulations for sailing in the Arctic as a way to ensure that ships are adequately prepared to sail in a region of “extreme and fast changing risks”.

Lloyd’s said its regulations would serve to complement the International Maritime Organisation’s forthcoming Polar Code of safety and environmental standards, but it also pointed out that a lack of information about polar ice and differing national guidelines could “could undermine the effectiveness” of the IMO guidelines.

The announcement comes after Lloyd’s in January expressed concern that the growth of Arctic shipping traffic was “outstripping policy makers’ ability to create a legislative framework in the high north”.

SEE RELATED: Shippers: plenty of potential in Arctic sea route

Among the challenges the company identified were the lack of search and rescue services in the region and unreliable satellite navigation coverage.

“Accurate marine charts are almost impossible to obtain but despite the obvious hazards, the market frequently receives intelligence about vessels with inadequate ice-class operating around the fringes of the Arctic ice sheet,” the company said in a statement.

The number of ships sailing Arctic routes north of Canada and Russia has risen considerably in recent years, but the volume of traffic still remains a fraction of the number of ships sailing traditional routes.

SEE RELATED: Arctic shipping’s long-term outlook no short-term failure

Major shippers, including Maersk, a Danish conglomerate, have said they do not expect Arctic routes to be commercially viable for at least a decade.

Shippers, however, are enchanted by the possibility of sailing the routes and capitalising on the 40 percent shorter sailing times between Asia and Western markets.

Overall, Lloyd’s predicts investment in the Arctic could exceed $100 billion within the next decade.