Massive Investment Coming to Northern Alaska


Photo from Wall Street Journal, Click to enlarge.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that little known Caelus Energy has made a huge find of oil in Smith Bay off the North Slope of Alaska, West of the current North Slope oil fields.

To get at the oil they expect to use “barges built along the Gulf Coast, then towed to Alaska and permanently sunk in the bay to create man-made drilling islands.”

To move the oil they expect to build “an $800 million, 125-mile pipeline that will carry the oil underneath state-owned waters to connect with existing pipelines.”

What does this mean to us?

Certainly, it means that there will be more activity in the Arctic. That may mean more work for the Coast Guard. On the other hand, it may not be a bad thing to have some of the assets the oil company will bring to the Arctic there for mutual aid.

Those commercially built, medium icebreakers are probably going to have another buyer soon, and may not be on the market for long.

This may also be an opportunity to share some infrastructure in the Arctic.

I do have to wonder why the pipeline will be, “underneath state-owned waters,” when it would be much shorter if it went from point to point rather than following the coast. Do they think it will be easier to maintain, or are they avoiding Federal regulation?


“When the Ice Melts,” USNI

The US Naval Institute Proceedings July 2013 edition has an article concerning US military policy in the Arctic, “When the Ice Melts,” written by three officers from the Navy, Air Force, and Army, which pays a lot of attention to the Coast Guard. Not much really new here and it appears a few months out of date, but still a good overview of the questions involved, if perhaps a bit too alarmist about the Chinese. It does advocate more Navy participation in the Arctic Shield Exercises.

Unfortunately the full article is only accessible to US Naval Institute members, but if you are a regular reader here, there is a good chance you should also be a USNI member.