- Harold R. Peyton (U. of Alaska)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- September 1970
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,076 - 1,082
- 1970. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 6.5.1 Air Emissions, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements
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In this land where biological processes are very slow, and small disturbances can require a long time to right themselves, man has the capacity to upset these processes with remarkable ease and impressive results. He can cause problems that are expensive to resolve and that have far-reaching political and social repercussions.
The great acceleration of development prompted by the Prudhoe Bay discovery bas brought considerable attention to the engineering problems in Alaska and Canada. Not all of these problems or other solutions are unique to the Arctic, but there are some environmental conditions that require special attention. Most of these conditions occur in regions where permafrost and sea ice are found and these two phenomena are useful as indicators of regions that are too cold for the use of techniques developed in temperate climates.
Remoteness and Development
It is frequently assumed that the uniqueness of the Arctic lies in its cold weather - summer and winter. It cannot be argued that the Arctic is a cold place, but conversely there are some places there were one can successfully grow tomatoes. There are periods of intense cold, but not colder than the winters in the more northern of the 48 contiguous states. Neither can it be argued that there are times when the cold and sometimes windy weather is very uncomfortable. So it was, also, with the settler of the upper midwest and even now one can get a good case of frostbite in northern cities. Similarly, very cold conditions are encountered routinely by commercial jet aircraft at all latitudes. We as a nation have considerable experience with cold weather per se, so the Arctic poses few unique or new problems. However, the Arctic regions are in a primitive stage of development, most of it poor by almost any U. S. standard. This underdevelopment poor by almost any U. S. standard. This underdevelopment is in great part caused by lack of need, and the harshness of the environment is thus felt full force without the tempering effect of well established structural improvements and services. The situation is somewhat as it would be if large-scale operations were attempted in the Houston area without harbors, railroads, highways, telephones, sewers, or air conditioningthat would indeed be a harsh environment.
The Arctic is characterized not only by underdevelopment, but also by remoteness. From Houston, as an example, the air travel time is shorter to London than to Prudhoe Bay. The same holds for the Canadian Arctic. As with many foreign operations, the combination of both underdevelopment and remoteness is cause for expenditure of substantial time, effort, and money; but this is not unique to the Arctic nor is it directly related to cold weather.
The Tenuous Balance
The natural forces at play in the Arctic are enormous. These forces are generally in balance. But the stability of this balance is frequently a tenuous one, and man has the capacity to upset natural processes with remarkable ease and impressive results; he can cause problems that are expensive to resolve and that have problems that are expensive to resolve and that have political and social repercussions. Biological processes political and social repercussions. Biological processes are very slow, and small disturbances can require a long time to recover.
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