Saturday, March 08, 2008

I've disbelieved predictions of the coming Northwest Passage, until I saw this:
In order to navigate these opening sea-lanes and transport the Arctic's oil and natural gas, the world's shipyards are already building ice-capable ships. The private sector is investing billions of dollars in a fleet of Arctic tankers. In 2005, there were 262 ice-class ships in service worldwide and 234 more on order. The oil and gas markets are driving the development of cutting-edge technology and the construction of new types of ships, such as double-acting tankers, which can steam bow first through open water and then turn around and proceed stern first to smash through ice. These new ships can sail unhindered to the Arctic's burgeoning oil and gas fields without the aid of icebreakers. Such breakthroughs are revolutionizing Arctic shipping and turning what were once commercially unviable projects into booming businesses.

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