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Russian container shipping line Fesco has been nationalised – Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday, transferring ownership to state nuclear power entity Rosatom.

Rosatom CEO Alexey Likhachev said the move would help Russia develop shipping along the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

On Russian TV station Rossiya 1, he said: “Our objective is to reorient a significant portion of existing global marine shipping between the growing economy of Asia, South-east Asia and the, perhaps conservative but fairly large, market of Europe.”

Fesco’s previous owner, Russian billionaire Ziyavudin Magomedov, was last year convicted of organised crime and embezzlement charges, jailed for 19 years and had all his assets seized. He is appealing the conviction and sentence.

Mr Likhachev said Mr Putin had ordered that the NSR be developed at an “accelerated pace”. Currently, China-based Russia-focused  Yangpu NewNew Shipping is the only carrier with regular services along the NSR, with four vessels.

Fesco has a fleet of 22 owned ships and six chartered vessels, for 40,332 teu, making it the world’s 35th-largest operator.

However, Xeneta’s chief analyst, Peter Sand, expressed scepticism that container shipping could be expanded through the NSR.

He said: “As far as the NSR goes – and specifically for container shipping – it will never be developed beyond small and local operators until the geo-political climate changes at large.

“Lines between the Far East and Russia may be set up, but I don’t see the NSR as a serious alternative to Far East-North Europe via Suez.”

And Linerlytica analyst Tan Hua Joo told The Loadstar the NSR was only a feasible route during summer, when the ice caps had melted. He added: “Newnew Shipping is currently the only carrier using the NSR, and it has completed four voyages this year. But it will be switching to the Suez route for the winter season.

“Fesco uses the Suez route for its China-St Petersburg, and is upgrading the frequency of this service with two more newbuildings that will join next month.

“I expect the service will continue to use the Suez route, as Fesco is able to load at Indian ports en route,” he explained.

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