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September 04, 2012

Northern Exposure

Jason Mapes has been traveling a lot this summer, including to a remote area of Alaska, where ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. paved a runway site with Evotherm WMA. The project was located in Kuparuk, Alaska, at the Ugnu-Kuparuk Airport, a private-use airport that’s used to transport workers on and off the ConcoPhillips oilfield site. With the potential for very cold weather, Evotherm was chosen to help the workability of the aspahlt, facilitate better aggregate coating, and create a longer compaction window. Summer temperatures in Kuparuk hover in the 50s, and the Evotherm mix went down well, with all mainline and joint densities coming out well within specification. This was by far the northernmost area of the U.S. that Evotherm has ever been used. Kuparuk is the northernmost oilfield in the world. It is also the second largest oilfield in North America and lies about 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

This job was in a very remote area that experiences extreme temperature conditions. It’s essentially a runway that sits on top of the permafrost tundra. There are no asphalt refineries or plants nearby. Everything had to be hauled approximately 900 miles north from Anchorage, and aggregate that was used on the job had to be mined onsite. The remote location and the 24 hours of daylight took some getting used to. There were herds of caribou roaming all over the place, along with foxes, muskox, and bears. One thing that stands out is, while paving, a caribou decided it wanted to cross the runway. This animal went across the newly laid asphalt mat, with the paver, rollers and people very close by I would say the reindeer was within 15 feet (approx. 4.6 m) of me at one point. It just didn't seem to care that we were making noise, it was going to go about its business regardless. It was a very cool sight, once in a lifetime!


Author: Jason Mapes


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