Discussion of this paper is invited. Three copies of any discussion should be sent to the Society of Petroleum Engineers office. Such discussions may be presented at the above meeting and, with the paper, may be considered for publication in one of the two SPE magazines.


This paper begins with the discovery and prior knowledge of oil on the North Slope of prior knowledge of oil on the North Slope of Alaska. A discussion of the hostile environment and the problems it generates is included.

The need for transporting the oil to the U.S. East Coast market is emphasized. A number of alternative transportation routes are mentioned before arriving at the three basic alternatives:

  1. Pipeline across Alaska — tankers to the Puget Sound area — and then by U.S. Transcontinental pipeline to the East Coast,

  2. Pipeline from the North Slope directly across Canada to the Eastern part of the U.S., and

  3. Icebreaking tankers eastward through the Northwest Passage.

The first two of the above are discussed briefly prior to going into the heart of the paper the full scale icebreaking tanker paper the full scale icebreaking tanker test by the S.S. MANHATTAN.

The discussion of the MANHATTAN begins with a brief history of the research which went into the decision to try a full scale test. The objectives of the test and the ship modifications are explained. Emphasis is on the collection of scientific test data to facilitate the design and to determine the economic feasibility of icebreaking tankers.

The presentation is concluded with a 12-minute film taken in the Northwest Passage.


I'm very happy to be here today to discuss with you the voyage of the S.S. MANHATTAN through the Northwest Passage and why we did it.

The "why" of it all, of course, is the discovery of oil on the North Slope of Alaska. Conservative estimates indicate there are five to ten billion barrels of oil there potentially the biggest discovery on the North American continent. Like so many other oil discoveries, it lies in a region where it is expensive, inconvenient, and difficult to operate.

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