Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Work Part II

Continuation of "Spring Work Part I":

It took 2 days to get to the first stop-over location, Kogru, where other equipment waited to be added to the train. This equipment had been stored on the Kogru runway over the off-travel season, due to spring weather complications last winter travel season. The train stopped each night along the way for crew to sleep, eat, and take care of travel needs. Like Winnebago travelers, the crew carried their "house" and all they needed with them. After a few day's layover at Kogru getting the stored equipment up and running, the cat-train strings continued west to their final destinations. One cat-train headed north to Drew Point and another south to the site on the Ikpikpuk River.

Logistics and support for all the people and equipment in these remote "camps" is a lot of work. One small cat-train is designated for resupply and runs back and forth almost constantly from the staging pad at Oliktok to the remote camps for the resupply of fuel and large items like replacement equipment. It usually takes about 2 1/2 days to travel one-way between the staging pad at Oliktok and Drew Point Camp, 3 days minimum to Ikpikpuk Camp. The Supply Train always has a survival unit (called the Escalade) with it for living quarters along the way. Storms can blow up at times and make traveling impossible, so the crew needs a warm place out of the storm to "hole up" until travel can be resumed.

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Double tank fuel sled.

Groceries and other supplies, mail, small equipment parts, and personnel are flown to and from Deadhorse to the remote camps by aircraft. Runways were made at each site on lake ice, by plowing the snow off to make smooth landing surfaces. Marsh Creek charters Bald Mountain Air Taxi to make almost daily flights, usually with a DeHavilland Single-engine Turbo Otter. Bald Mt.Air's Twin-engine Otter has also been used on the job.

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Plowing the runway at the Ikpikpuk site.

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Single-engine Otter landing on lake-ice runway at Ikpikpuk.

I visited the Drew Point Camp on March 8th and it was a cold, clear day. I was able to see the camp, where up to 42 people can be housed, although there were only 25 people there at the time. Plus I got a tour of the pit operations, where all the work was being done to remediate the old well site, including the removal of pit material and 15 feet of well pipe.

Drew Point Camp aerial.jpg Drew Point Camp aerial

Drew Point camp.jpg

Drew Point Camp 3-8-10

Teena & Marvin St. Clair at Drew Point.jpg

Teena & Marvin St. Clair (medic) at Drew Point 3-8-10

Both camps have medics that also act as weather reporters for flights coming and going. I've worked with Marvin on other slope jobs, so it was fun to get to see him on this job. That has been a fun part of this job, I've gotten to see lots of old friends from my previous years working in the oilfield. [This has mostly happened at the airport as people come and go to the slope. When I'm there on Marsh Creek errands, I often get to see friends from other companies.

The remediation work at the old well site at Drew Point seen from the air was only a small dark spot in a world of white.

Reserve Pit DP aerial.jpg

Drew Point old well site along coast - Arctic Ocean beyond.

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Drew Point Reserve Pit work removing material.

Marsh Creek introduced new side-dump sets with tracks for hauling the removed material on the overland trail to the Ikpikpuk Site. It is about a 12 hour round trip and will take many trips to complete the job. Drivers will be working around the clock until the job is done. Time is pressing and everyone and all the equipment must be done and off the ice by the end of April.

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Steigers pulling side-dumps along trail. The new side-dumps had just reached their

1000 miles benchmark.

Keeping track of all the equipment on this job is part of my job and I hope you've enjoyed hearing and seeing a little of what I've been involved with this spring.

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