Haul road to reopen after limited impact to Slope operations

The Dalton Highway is scheduled to reopen June 5, with the completion of repairs to flood damage, said Meadow Bailey, spokeswomen for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

The highway is a vital supply link to North Slope producing fields that has been closed for an extended period due to flooding of the Sagavanirktok River near northern end of the road at Deadhorse.

With truck supply cut off, field operators are flying ultra-low sulfur diesel and other fuel to the Slope along with other vital supplies.

High waters also cut access roads to some drill sites in the Prudhoe Bay field and to the small Endicott field, resulting in some curtailment of production, field operators reported.

“BP completed an orderly and safe shut-in of some of its drill sites. This is a precautionary action in response to the flooding from the Sag River which has temporary impacted the road access to these drill sites,” BP spokeswoman Dawn Patience said.

“Crews are working on repairing roads. There are no safety or environmental incidents.”

Natalie Lowman, spokeswoman for ConocoPhillips, said her company is flying in fuel and vital supplies to support field operations, as are other companies.

“At this point our operations are not being affected,” she said.

Access to the Endicott field, which is now owned and operated by Hilcorp Energy, was also cut off and Endicott production was temporarily suspended as a safety precaution, said Lori Nelson, Hilcorp’s spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, trucks that normally carry drill pipe, ultra-low sulfur diesel, drilling chemicals and groceries to the North Slope are waiting in Fairbanks, at the southern end of the 430-mile highway, said Aves Thompson, executive director of the Alaska Trucking Association.

While most critical supplies can be airlifted there are concerns that certain hazardous chemicals, including those used in drilling, cannot be shipped by air, Thompson said. However, producers and major contractors had anticipated the flooding, due to an unusually warm spring and heavy snow-melt, and laid in stockpiles of supplies, he said.

A similar, although shorter, closure of the road occurred a few weeks ago when rising waters in the Sagavanirktok River, which is adjacent to the highway for many miles, forced heavy ice sheets across several miles of roadway.

Bailey said the cost of the repairs to date, to replace culverts and place new gravel, is about $15.5 million, the bulk of which will be paid for by the federal government. Cruz Construction has been the primary contractor on the emergency repairs, she said, but Bryce Construction also also been involved.

Bryce was awarded a contract on a $26.7 million Dalton Highway remediation project in the area where the flooding occurred, and DOT will soon transition the project from emergency repairs to the previously-scheduled construction planned for this summer, Bailey said.

Bryce was awarded a contract in January to rebuild the road from Mile 401 to 414, near the end of the road at Deadhorse, and that work will be extended south to Mile 398. This summer the agency hopes to add another increment, to Mile 309.

The new construction involves adding three to seven feet of gravel to the existing roadbed so the new road will be 7 to 10 feet above the floodplain. New culverts will also be added.

Updated: 
11/21/2016 - 8:00pm

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