Abstract

It seems certain that the decade of the '70s will see some dramatic changes in energy supply and delivery systems throughout North America. Energy requirements are accelerating and the increases in traditional sources of supply are lagging behind.

Several new energy sources will be investigated and some tapped. This paper describes the study of one such new source: the connection by a pipeline into the Arctic of new reserves of gas in Alaska and northern Canada with markets in the U.S. and Canada.

Reserves which would support such a pipeline may be proved now and the potential pipeline may be proved now and the potential for additional reserves in the Arctic is more than encouraging.

Three groups, one of which is The Northwest Project Study Group, have announced study projects. The Northwest group has committed over $12 million to research and studies and is well underway with its work.

Pipelining in the Arctic will be an unique challenge. Permafrost, in all its variations, exists under the soil through nearly half the length of the pipeline. In addition, massive ice lenses and vertical ice wedges will be encountered. Any disturbance of the thin insulating organic surface layer will start thermal erosion in many areas.

The Northwest Group is investigating the feasibility of carrying refrigerated gas in a buried line and to evaluate the scheme has had constructed a pipeline test facility in the Arctic. The facility includes long sections of 48-inch diameter pipe through which air at controlled temperatures is circulated. The test program will evaluate pipe stability in high ice content permafrost; will test foundation types; will investigate surface restoration methods, drainage problems, etc.; and will include investigation of construction practices.

A detailed knowledge of the unique arctic ecology will be essential. Ecologically sensitive areas must be identified and respected. Wildlife species must be understood and undue disturbance avoided.

The native people living along the pipeline route, while few in number, must be pipeline route, while few in number, must be included in the plans and programs of such a pipeline project. pipeline project.

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