Day 252 Dead Horse to Wiseman Thursday the 25th July 409km

Yesterday after catching up with the Blog, I went for a ride around Dead Horse:

Venter Trailers, these will all be rented out in the winter, they are Heaters for heating anything from cars to roads in the winter
Note the size of these Winches
Note the Electric Plug-in cables hanging down for all the parked cars, in winter you have to plug your car in when parked to prevent the oil from freezing
Note yellow plug in bumper of the truck

The food is very good at our hotel, everything was free, last night we had Salmon and Chicken Kiev for dinner, there was a Salad Buffet, selection of cakes, Cooldrink Machine, Juice Machine, and a Soft Serve Icecream Machine with a selection of things to sprinkle on top.

The weather report showed Sun-shine throughout the night, and the sun did shine throughout the night, we are so far past the Arctic Circle 70,2 Degrees North that the sun does not even get close to setting.

This morning we took the tourbus to the coast, I thought it was going to be a waste of time, but wow, was I wrong, it was a proper tour of the Oilfields by a retired cop that used to work in Dead Horse as a policeman, mainly traffic police work as there are is no crime, bar-fights or drunk people. If you are caught with alcohol you are put on the next plane out, your boss has to pay your air-ticket and your belongings are mailed to you, you cant even go and pack them, and that is also the last time you will be employed by the oil companies.

I had to take these photos through the window, so not very good, but worth showing you:

I thougth the Polar Bear Tours were just a tourist catcher gimmick, but in the winter when the bay is iced-up, the polar bears walk in off the ice and wander around the oil-field. The tour opperator says they see them sometimes in Summer, and when the bus did its only stop for those wanting to swim, he told us that if he honks his Horn 3 times that it is the sign to return to the bus running as he had then spotted a polar Bear.

The Rig drilling for oil is on the right of the photo, on the left is the support\store\office\workshop for the rig.

There are several of these busy drilling for oil, mostly they are drilling in old wells, in the past they just drilled down, but now tecnology allows them to drill at 45 Degrees in several directions. But in the winter, these rigs are moved to other positions, it gets jacked-up, many wheels are placed under the rig and then it is moved to another position, at 5 miles per hour. There is a guy who constantly monitors the tyre temperature to ensure the wheels dont overheat, in the minus 50 degree temperature.

These are Well Houses (over 1000 of them in Dead Horse) where the oil comes out of the ground after the rig has drilled for the oil, each has a pipe that then goes to another building:
In this building the sea-water and gas is seperated from the oil

The entire oil-field is pressurised and the oil is not pumped out, it just comes out from the pressure. They pump the seawater down to below the oil underground, 3km down, and they pump the gas to above the oil, so the gas at the top and the sea-water at the bottom squeeses the oil together at the depth they then have their pipe going up to the surface.

The oil comes out of the ground very warm, and then it is pumped with the Trans Alaskan Pipeline which we have been riding next to for days now, down to Valdez, but along the way they have to heat the oil again in the pipe to ensure is stays liquid enough to be pumped. They are pumping 450 000 Barrels of oil per day at the moment, but in the 80’s when the price of oil shot-up, they increased the volume to 2 million barrels per day, but to do so they have to add a lubricant to the oil that reduces its friction so that it can be pumped faster.

On the left is Mud, it is an indication that this company is busy drilling at the moment as mud is pushed down the hole to the drill-head to lubricate the drill-head and the mud that returns to the surface by the rotation of the drill has pieces of rock stuck in it, which the geoligists then take and examine and test to know
On the right is a building that sits ontop ofthe ground, but as the ground is not really ground but rather Permafrost, (frozen soil) the building will cause the permafrost to de-frost and then the building slowly drops lower and lower into the permafrost. So there are two ways of building, either the entire building is on poles so that the cold can get under the building to keep the permafrost frozen, or, like above, there are heat-exchangers next to the building, like in this photo below on the pipeline
See the pipes sticking out on the side of the pipeline, those goes into the ground and under the pipeline and it works like a deepfreeze (using Amonia) and it keeps the permafrost frozen so that the pipeline cant sink into the ground.

When they need to plant a pole in South Africa and most other places in the world, one has to concrete the pole into the hole in the ground, but here they just drill a hole, larger than the pole, pour water into the hole and the water is then frozen by the permafrost, freexing the pole onto the ice onto the premafrost.

The landscape looks like this, it is formed over 1000’s of years, the soil gets a small crack, then water fills the crach and in the winter the water freezes and expands by 11%, and like a wedge, the ice forces the crack a little bigger, then the bigger crack fills with water the next year etc. etc. etc and eventually after 1000 years you have all these ditches
We reached the arctic sea and Milsy stripped down, (Tex was more dressed for the occasion) and they both swam in the freezing water
More trailers, all of these will be rented out in the winter, they are each fitted with lights and a generator and are rented out for work-crews as the sun never shines for many months, so they need lights to work in the winter.
Note the light on top of all the sign boards

We cant understand how cold the winters are here if you take a cup of coffee and throw it up into the air, it freezes into droplets (vapourise) in the air. There are three type of driving protocols in the winter, Phase one means you can drive but have to constantly monitor the weather report for changesin the weather, phase 2 means you have to have your Arctic suite, gloves and hats with you in the car, you have to have a buddy that you check-in with every 10 minutes by two-way-radio and you have to report back when you have reached your destination. but phase 3 means you follow a show-plough or grader in convoy and you follow the orange poles next to the road, from 1 to the other, often all you can see, one at a time (they are 6m apart,) and when you get to a crossroad there will be a double pole telling you that you can now turn as you cant see the road.

We saw many types of water birds along the road in the many dams, also some Caribu and then these special animals, never heard of them before, called Musk-ox, that only lives in the arctic circle, their hair is like hollow tubes and grows thick on their backs.

After the tour we jumped on the bikes and turned them around South along the same road we came on over the past two days riding.

Back over the pass over the Brook Mountains
There was a lot of trucks coming in the opposite direction, this one had another truck behind it pushing it up the hills

We slept at Wiseman again and I took a few more photos around Clutch’s Cabin, spring was in the air.

But before Clutch Bar-B-Qed some Pork Fillet and Potatoes for us hedecided to start the old rusted jeep which I thought was just part of the rusting-away-display.

After dinner Clutch showed us how to Pan for Gold using some soil mined from his claim:

Struck by Gold-fever lead to a Gold-rush

After dinner we went into Clutch’s tiny one roomed cabin, sat on his two Barber-Chairs and kitchen chairs and he played us old videos taken in Wiseman when gold was discovered and the population was over a 100, today there are only 14 residents in Wiseman, and in the winter even less.

Here are a few photos of riding that I have not posted before:

Note I have left my Camp-Bag at the hotel in Fairbanks the minute we had accommodation confirmed for Wiseman and Dead Horse

Tomorow we head back to Fairbanks where Pie’s wife and Tex’s girlfriend is meeting us to follow us in a hirecar as we are going to be going to the tourist spots and parks for the next 3 days.

See Ya


1 Comment

  1. Enjoyed the interesting facts on oil drilling- have to see it to appreciate what others do for a living! Safe riding😁

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