Thursday, March 22, 2012

Boston Globe Raves About Barrow --

Link here.

Man-camps okay on the North Slope of Alaska.
At midnight, in the northernmost location in the United States, this town packed in ice seems unwelcoming. It is silent and cold. Frozen whale bones line the road. There is no connectivity to the outside world. In order to ward off polar bears, mace spray hangs from the door of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) facility.

The DEWline, a “man camp’’ because that is who is there, is primarily used to monitor the Russians, but also sleeps visitors looking for a place to stay. Nearly 300 miles above the Arctic Circle, there are no vacancies for the foreseeable future. It may be minus 35 degrees this Tuesday, but Barrow is hot.

This 3,500-person Alaskan town is changing. It has become a magnet for explorers and environmentalists, businessmen and rescuers, scientists and engineers, all of whom are coming here because the Arctic is melting and there is oil in the once-frozen ocean.

The United States Geological Service estimates there are about 25 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic; it could net a federal tax haul of $200 billion. Isolated Barrow, a place that has no road access in or out, will serve as the primary land location for all exploration activity. It is ground zero at the top of the world.
For newbies: Harold Hamm opines there area 24 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the Williston Basin Bakken. My back of the envelope calculations suggest there are 22.7 billion barrels. That's a joke. But seriously, doing back of the envelope calculations, one can see how Mr Hamm arrives at his figure.

Something tells me oil companies will need $100/bbl oil to make the Barrow operation profitable. I'm glad to see the president supports drilling in Alaska. Drill, drill, drill.

 A Note to the Granddaughters

Between my sophomore and junior years in college (or maybe my freshman and sophomore years, I forget) I was part of a research team doing some biology research in Barrow, Alaska.

I remember doing a lot of my laboratory experiments during the middle of the night and watching the sun never set. It came very close and it wasn't all that light or bright, but technically they were days of the midnight sun.

For some reason, and I don't recall why, I flew into Prudhoe Bay -- was I on my way home? I don't recall the reason for the flight. But for a few hours I was able to view the oil drilling staging complex at Prudhoe Bay. It was quite an interesting site. But not much to say except simply that I was there.

The one thing I do remember is that American Forces Radio Network got me through a summer where the radio was the ONLY entertainment. I remember hearing Donna Fargo's debut hit, "I'm The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA." Wow. 1972. So, it must have been between my junior and senior years of college. I graduated from college in 1973. I remember sending myself a letter with "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL NEXT YEAR" -- it was a letter telling me that under no circumstances to ever, ever participate in another biology research project in Barrow. If I have my years correct, it was the following year, the summer after graduation, that I hitchhiked from Williston -- starting out on the Million Dollar Way -- to New York City; flew to Europe on Air Luxemburg, and then spent the summer in Europe, hitchhiking or walking. The summer was filled with longing for being back in a suburb of New York City where I had met a wonderful, wonderful woman. Ah. the memories of youth.

Now, "back to the future," and the oil companies are returning to the Prudhoe Bay - Barrow area.  Barrow is the northernmost point of Alaska and is located, I suppose, about 500 air miles northwest of Prudhoe Bay.


  1. Nothing to do with Barrow, but in case you haven't heard,,,Williston made it into the latest edition of the AARP newspaper. Nothing we dont already know but interesting.Have a good day. Tubejig.SD

    1. Well, the secret is out if AARP knows about it!