The bright afternoon January sun offers little respite from the minus 40C temperature for the pipeline construction workers crunching through the snow in Russia’s Far East region. In the sprawling pine forests of the country’s eastern wilderness, the cold air burns cheeks and catches in throats, as the thick, grey exhaust fumes from the colossal earthmoving diggers hang like clumps of candyfloss. The four-dozen engineers near the town of Neryungri are part of an 8,500 crew working all-year round to build Gazprom’s Power of Siberia , a 3,000km pipeline that runs from the gasfields of eastern Siberia to the Chinese border in the south-east. The pipeline is Russia’s most ambitious, costly and geopolitically critical energy project since the fall of the Soviet Union, and represents a $55bn bet on uncharted territory by the world’s biggest gas company. Russia’s first eastern pipeline is the most striking physical manifestation […]