Pacific Maritime Magazine - Marine Business for the Operations Sector

Crowley and Hilcorp Establish New Lifeline to Endicott, Alaska Drill Site


When a drill site was cut off from the mainland by a washed out road, oil exploration and production company Hilcorp turned to Crowley's hovercraft Arctic Hawk to keep supply lines open. Photo courtesy of Crowley.

In the Prudhoe Bay oilfields, where about half a million barrels of oil is extracted each day, nature can be wild, unpredictable and uncooperative. One of the drilling sites, Endicott, is located on a spit of land connected by the gravel Prudhoe Bay road system and normally accessible by truck. That is until recently, when the road was washed out. Faced with the dilemma of how to get workers, food and supplies to the work site, Hilcorp, one of the largest, privately-held exploration and production companies in the United States, turned to Crowley.

"With the road cut-off and heavy fog preventing helicopters from flying in and out, Hilcorp diverted the hovercraft Arctic Hawk from its normal duties of supporting NorthStar Island, to shuttle people, groceries and other supplies to Endicott," said Bruce Harland, Crowley vice president. "Hilcorp was already chartering the Arctic Hawk to provide a similar shuttle service to and from their Northstar Island drill site, so this was a natural extension of that service, which we were happy to provide."

The Arctic Hawk, Crowley Offshore Services' hovercraft, was built by Seattle's Kvichak Marine Industries and entered service in Prudhoe Bay in 2004. The craft was needed to transfer BP work crews (now Hilcorp work crews) between land and the Northstar Island production facility about six miles offshore in the Beaufort Sea. A hovercraft is the most practical mode of transport for this service as the route must be traveled over open water in summer and ice during the winter and a mixture of ice and water during freeze-up and break-up.

The Arctic Hawk is 38.8 feet in length with a 15.5-foot beam. It is considered a passenger vessel by the Coast Guard and carries a Certificate of Documentation (admeasured at 17 gross and 14 net tons) and Certificate of Inspection issued by Coast Guard Sector Anchorage.


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