17 October 2010

More observations on the pipeline

I feel like I am leading a historic life here. Much like those early mining engineers who started their careers as surveyors for Kennecott or the CRNW Railway and ended them with those same companies 27 years later when Kennecott pulled out of Alaska, I too am watching history unfold, starting with the early days when those first lease sales made the news of the year for Alaska back in 1969 and started the ball rolling that led to construction of the pipeline in 1975-77. Just to give you an idea of the magnitude of it, the total number of men involved in on-site construction over those few years exceeded 70,000. That is a HUGE economic impact, especially considering the almost unheard-of wages that this project brought with it. Well, it looks like I will be here to watch it all end in another decade or so. In a way, I almost hope so, just to be a witness to it.

On the other hand, I would REALLY like to see ANWR developed because THAT would add up to 30 more years to the life of this already 30-year old pipeline. Now THAT would be something ! Either way it will certainly be interesting times here in AK.

But I sure hope we have something here in Alaska to replace that oil pipeline. Otherwise it seems highly unlikely that future generations not just here in AK but even stateside will fail to have opportunities I and so many others had. Not that I successfully took advantage of many of them. But that's another story.

A historic view of the pipeline shortly after completion near Tonsina, Copper Valley, Alaska, 1977. In the background are Mounts Drum, Sanford & Wrangell. (click image for larger one)

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