The first liquefied natural gas tanker to cross through the Russian Arctic this time of year without the help of a separate icebreaker finished its journey Friday.
Eduard Toll, a tanker that belongs to regional energy shipping company Teekay, landed in northern Russia after setting route from Korea at the end of January. Teekay can thank climate change for this easy passage: Arctic sea ice extent was at record-breaking low levels in January. These are the kinds of conditions that made this trip possible at all.
Arctic sea ice is melting, and now ships carrying the very substance that contributes to its melting can nonchalantly roll through. This saves money for companies trading between Europe and Asia (like Teekay), as the route is shorter than going through Egypt’s Suez Canal.
This time of Arctic “exploration,” as Teekay describes it, is set to expand as more and more ice melts, giving way to new shipping routes. This tanker is the first of six that’ll carry natural gas for a major Russian natural gas project. These waters also pose a security risk to the U.S. as they see more use, per the Pentagon. While Russia has been focused on investing in building its military to make use of this new region, the U.S. has been lagging behind.
[h/t Climate Home News]