Whether it's from global warming or natural cycles, the seas near the Arctic Circle have been mostly open to shipping traffic since 2007
One of the biggest business upsides is that the fabled Northwest Passage linking Europe with Asia is now a reality.
Explorers centuries ago hunted for a route through the Arctic Ocean along the northern coast of North America to Asia. But they couldn't break through the solid ice near the North Pole.
Moving cargo from China or Japan to Europe via Russia's Arctic Sea route could lop 20%-24% off the distance from regular routes
The region holds as much as 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 44 billion barrels of liquid natural gas. Those gas reserves would equal all the proven reserves in (non-Arctic) Russia