Arctic Pilot Project

The Arctic Pilot Project was a proposal to ship natural gas from the Canadian High Arctic to southern markets using ice-breaking tankers. The project was conceived in 1976 by Petro-Canada as a way to stimulate frontier exploration and to increase Canadian energy supplies. The project was proposed formally in 1979 by a consortium comprising Petro-Canada Exploration Inc., as project manager and principal shareholder, Dome Petroleum Ltd., Nova, an Alberta corporation (formerly Alberta Gas Trunk Line Co. Ltd.), and Melville Shipping Ltd. The gas production facilities associated with the Arctic Pilot Project were to be owned and operated by Pan-Arctic Oils Ltd., while TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. was to be responsible for the southern regasification terminal. For economic reasons, the project did not proceed.

The plan called for the production of natural gas from the Drake Point gas field, on the eastern side of Sabine Peninsula, Melville Island (76°21' N 108°26' W), and its transportation south across Melville Island by a buried pipeline to a shipping terminal at Bridport Inlet, on the south coast of the island and adjacent to Viscount Melville Sound. Here the gas was to be liquefied and shipped in ice-breaking tankers easterly through Parry Channel, across Baffin Bay, and through Davies Strait to a receiving terminal in Atlantic Canada. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers were expected to travel year-round, through the pack ice of the Eastern Arctic waters, transporting an average of 6.4 million cubic meters of gas per day (6.4 x 106 m3/day of natural gas). Completion of the project was expected to take almost six years, and to be operational for about 20 years. The estimated cost of the Arctic Pilot Project was $1.5-2 billion.

The gas production facilities were to consist of two clusters of four wells each, with gathering lines, gas dehydration and chilling plants, accommodation, workshop and storage buildings, access roads, and an airstrip. The gas was to be chilled to a maximum temperature of -6°C; this would prevent warm gas from thawing the permafrost near the pipeline. The pipeline from Drake Point to Bridport Inlet was to be approximately 160 km long, 0.56 m in diameter, and buried in permafrost, just below the base of the active layer.

According to the plan, the gas would be liquefied and stored at Bridport Inlet for shipment south. The gas liquefaction plant and LNG storage facilities were to be built in the south and mounted on three barges. These would have been towed to Bridport Inlet and grounded on gravel pads behind dewatered, protective rock berms on the outer part of the Meacham River delta. Dewatering of the basins was essential to eliminate problems of changing draft as the storage tanks were filled and emptied. To liquefy the natural gas, it would be compressed and cooled to -162°C; 600 m3 of natural gas would yield 1 m3 of LNG, and each storage barge would hold up to 800,000 m3 of LNG. The plant and storage barges would be linked to the pipeline along a causeway; the LNG tankers would berth along the outer face of the berms at a caisson-supported dock. In winter, warm water from the plant (at +8.5°C) would circulate around the docking area to keep ice growth to less than 1 m and so assist in berthing the vessels. Other facilities at Bridport Inlet were to comprise camp, workshop and storage buildings, access roads, and an airstrip. Pipeline repair equipment and supplies would also be held at this location.

Two Arctic Class 7 ice-breaking LNG tankers, each making about 15 round trips per year, would have completed the Arctic Pilot Project. Each was to be 470 m long by 43 m wide and capable of carrying 140,000 m3 of LNG in six tanks. The ships would draw 11.5 in open water and 13 m in ice and would be powered by gas turbine engines, fueled by the "boil-off" of natural gas from the LNG cargo.

This project was always intended as a pilot project, and was designed at minimum scale, to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of delivering natural gas from the Arctic Islands to southern markets by ship. The Arctic Pilot Project was sized at about one-tenth the scale of any alternative proposal for the delivery of Arctic natural gas.

The northern component of the project was subject to an environmental and socioeconomic impact assessment by a panel from the Canadian Federal Environmental and Review Office, Environment Canada. The panel, which reported in October 1980, concluded that the proposal was environmentally acceptable, subject to certain conditions. The panel's major concerns related to the shipping component of the project, particularly in the environmentally sensitive area of Lancaster Sound. The panel recommended that a control authority be established by the Minister of Transport to monitor, assist, and regulate ship movements within the environmentally sensitive area. The panel also called for the creation of an advisory committee with representatives from the proponent, the Inuit, and other government agencies to recommend and approve biological studies for guidance in the selection of possible shipping routes.

The environmental hearings for the northern component of the project were to have been followed by regulatory hearings before the National Energy Board of Canada and by an environmental and socioeconomic impact assessment of the southern component, the regasification terminal. As the environmental hearings for the northern component proceeded, however, the price of natural gas dropped and the project proponents withdrew the project from the regulatory process. As a result, detailed design of the LNG carriers, in terms of hull shape, ice-breaking bow design, LNG containment systems, etc., were not completed. Similarly, no details for the design and construction of the southern regasification terminal were ever developed.

J.A. Heginbottom

See also Gas Exploration; High Arctic; Lancaster Sound

Further Reading

Canada, Federal Environmental Assessment Review Office, Arctic Pilot Project (Northern Component): Report of the Environmental Assessment Panel, Ottawa: Environment Canada, Environmental Assessment Panel Report No. 14; available from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Canada K1A 0H3, 1980

ARCTIC RESEARCH CONSORTIUM OF THE UNITED STATES (ARCUS) The Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS) was formed in 1988 to identify and bring together the distributed human and material resources of the country's Arctic research community in order to create a synergy for Arctic research to enable the community to rise to the many challenges facing the region and the United States. ARCUS is a nonprofit corporation consisting of institutions organized and operated for educational, professional, or scientific purposes associated with Arctic research or related fields. The representatives of member institutions constitute the Council of ARCUS and elect the Board of Directors.

The purpose of ARCUS is to provide leadership in advancing knowledge and understanding of the Arctic by:

1. serving as a forum for planning, facilitating, coordinating, and implementing disciplinary and interdisciplinary studies of the Arctic;

2. acting as a synthesizer and disseminator of scientific information relevant to state, national, and international programs of Arctic research; and

3. encouraging and facilitating the education of scientists and the public in the needs and opportunities of research in the Arctic.

Initially, the consortium focused on the role of the Arctic in global change and the requirements for a national Arctic education program. These two areas are inherently complementary and both serve to unite the community because they cut across the disciplines of Arctic science. They also provided a mechanism to determine the areas of relative strengths and weaknesses within the Arctic research community. From this starting point, ARCUS has been instrumental in facilitating planning processes in several areas of Arctic research, organizing workshops, producing numerous reports and recommendations, publishing a regular newsletter, Witness the Arctic, and maintaining a moderated web-based mailing list of news and announcements called ArcticInfo. At present, ARCUS runs, on behalf of the National Science Foundation, the steering committee for the Arctic System Science Program (ARCSS).

The organization has three primary long-term goals:

1. To produce identifiable improvements in United States Arctic science. The importance of the Arctic, nationally and internationally, requires developing a consensus among the Arctic research community on pertinent issues and research needs, the transfer and application of cold regions research and technology, increased levels of funding for Arctic science, and improvements in the level of cooperation between the United States and international Arctic research institutions and industries.

2. To build Arctic research communities of scientists and scholars in the United States. New and highly qualified scientists and engineers must be educated and trained in the critical skills required to address the strategic problems of the Arctic. In addition, the need for an expanded social science research program on Arctic topics will require a well-organized and cohesive community of social and behavioral scientists who are interested in the Arctic.

3. To open avenues for interdisciplinary approaches, the introduction of new techniques, and the widening of scientific participation. Although the dispersed nature of the Arctic research community remains an impediment to optimal cooperation across disciplines, increasing regular communication among different Arctic disciplines and science communities is one key to developing Arctic science.

Henry P. Huntington

See also Arctic Research and Policy Act; Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation

Further Reading

Arctic Research of the United States, Special issue on the National Science Foundation's Arctic Systems Science Program, Volume 11, 2003 ARCUS, Toolik Field Station: The Second Twenty Years, Recommendations on the Science Mission and the Development of Toolik Field Station, Fairbanks, Alaska: ARCUS, 1996

ARCUS, Logistics Recommendations for an Improved US Arctic Research Capability, Fairbanks, Alaska: ARCUS, 1997

ARCUS, People and the Arctic: A Prospectus for Research on the Human Dimensions of the Arctic System, Fairbanks, Alaska: ARCUS, 1997 ARCUS, Toward Prediction of the Arctic System, Predicting States of the Arctic System on Seasonal-to-Century Time Scales by Integrating Observations, Process Research,

Modeling, and Assessment, Fairbanks, Alaska: ARCUS, 1998

ARCUS, Arctic Social Sciences: Opportunities in Arctic

Research, Fairbanks, Alaska: ARCUS, 1999 ARCUS, The Future of an Arctic Resource: Recommendations from the Barrow Area Research Support Workshop, Fairbanks, Alaska: ARCUS, 1999 ARCUS, Marine Science in the Arctic: A Strategy, Fairbanks,

Alaska: ARCUS, 1999 ARCUS, Opportunities for Collaboration between the United States and Norway in Arctic Research: A Workshop Report, Fairbanks, Alaska: ARCUS, 2000

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