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Russia looks to Japan icebreaking tankers to unlock Arctic gas

MOL-Novatek venture would transport LNG via northern routes

Mitsui O.S.K.Lines will embark on a LNG project that will cut costs of shipping the resource from the Arctic.

TOKYO -- Japanese marine shipper Mitsui O.S.K. Lines is breaking new ground in the Arctic Circle by teaming up with one of Russia's largest natural gas producers to export the fuel through the icy seas rather than pipeline, in a venture that promises lower costs but also risks running afoul of American sanctions on Moscow.

In September, Russia's Novatek and MOL announced plans to have icebreaking LNG tankers transport the fuel along the Eurasian Arctic coastline to floating storage units that will assist transfers of the cargo to conventional tankers. The project is expected to cost as much as 160 billion yen ($1.47 billion) with operations to start by 2023.

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