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Ship navigates Arctic ice in hope of breaking open new shipping route

Dynagas Ltd via EPA

The liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier OB River moves through ice in the arctic on Nov. 14.

European Pressphoto Agency -- The Ob River, a ship carrying liquefied natural gas, left Norway in November and has sailed north of Russia on its way to Japan. The specially equipped tanker is due to arrive in early December and will shave 20 days off the regular journey. If this trip is successful, it would be the first ship of its type to sail across the Arctic.

According to the BBC, changing ice conditions and a strong increase in the use of shale gas from the United States make the route attractive.

Editor's note: European Pressphoto Agency made these photos available to NBC News on Nov. 27.

DYNAGAS Ltd via EPA

The LNG carrier OB River moves through ice in the arctic on Nov. 14.

DYNAGAS Ltd via EPA

The LNG carrier OB River moves through ice in the arctic on Oct. 8.

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