In the icy waters of a Siberian harbour, the Christophe de Margerie, a Russian ship with an unusual French name, was ready for loading. The world’s first ice-breaking gas tanker had been designed for a very specific purpose: opening up Russia’s Arctic shipping routes towards Europe and Asia during the winter months.
It was December 2017, and the temperatures had plunged to -27C, but the politicians and oil executives gathered in Sabetta, on the Yamal peninsula, were jubilant. Vladimir Putin had flown in for the event. At the president’s signal, gas began to pump into the tanker.