Energy giants SA, Russia’s OAO Novatec and China National Petroleum Co. are investing $27 billion to develop Yamal LNG, one of the world’s biggest gas export facilities deep inside the Arctic Circle in western Siberia. Yamal, “the end of the earth,” in the local Nenets language, will require building LNG tankers powerful enough to smash through heavy ice. But engineers still haven’t figured out how to evacuate crew from those tankers in an emergency—underscoring how some of the industry’s trickiest obstacles in the Arctic are also some of the most basic. As warming seas melt arctic ice, shipping executives have been exploring the prospect of more commercial voyages through once-impassable waters. One of the most promising new thoroughfares is the Northern Sea Route, a passage through one of Russia’s northernmost archipelagoes. During a few warm months of each year, the route is now increasingly passable to ship traffic. Traversing […]