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Extra-thick ice freezes early operations in Arctic

There's a rite of passage that plays out in the Arctic each year as the daylong summer sun warms and weakens the thick polar ice pack, eventually clearing the frigid waters to make way for ships, hunters and sea life. This year, the seasonal changes in north Alaska are being closely monitored by an eclectic group of onlookers -- the U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Greenpeace -- all of whom are eager to sail into the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

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