24781292 story Northeast Passage Becomes Viable Trade Route 363 Posted by Unknown Lamer on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @03:01PM from the coastal-residents-drowning-but-trade-is-up dept. Stirling Newberry writes "The New York Times reports on the continued expansion of the sea route along the Russian side of the Arctic Ocean. It was only in 2009 that outside ships were allowed to ply this lane, but Russians have used it since the early 20th century. What makes this year a landmark is that the polar ice cap is smaller at its September minimum than before, allowing large container ships and oil tankers — the backbone of sea commerce — to travel between Europe and Asia, saving time and money over the Suez route, as well as avoiding several politically unstable regions of the world. Putin has been pushing development along the route. While the northwest passage is only gradually opening, the opposite side of the Arctic Ocean looks set for expansion. Siberian Riviera anyone?"