U.S. Army Corps of Engineers taps Nome for Arctic port expansion

[B]U.S. Army Corps of Engineers taps Nome for Arctic port expansion[/B]

By Matthew F. Smith - KNOM, Nome
Posted on February 16, 2015 at 5:50 am

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is set to unveil its first steps toward expanding deep-water Arctic ports in Alaska, and Corps officials said Friday they plan to start by expanding the existing Port of Nome.

“The report is making the recommendation for Nome, for construction at Nome at this time, basically due to its highly developed area, having a good runway, good hospital, already strong support that’s already there,” said Bruce Sexauer, the Alaska Army Corps’ chief of civil works.

Being first pick for a deep-water port—a pick Sexauer stressed is still provisional until public comment and other evaluations are complete—includes the Corps’ plan for a 2,100-foot extension of Nome’s causeway, the building of a new 450-foot dock, and dredging the port down to a depth of 28 feet.

Nome’s causeway currently has two docks, measuring about 200 feet each, and the harbor now goes to a depth of 22 feet. A middle dock project set to start construction this coming summer would add a third 200-foot dock.

The Corps eventually hopes to develop a system of deeper ports will be developed throughout western Alaska. That includes the natural deep water of Port Clarence near Brevig Mission and Teller, but residents of those communities near the western tip of the Seward Peninsula have opposed that plan. They’ve voiced concern over how a busy port would endanger seals, fish, and other subsistence resources.

Sexauer pointed to increased traffic in the Bering Strait, and growing resource extraction in the Arctic—including potential oil and gas development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas—as necessitating the Arctic ports, starting with Nome.

“This port will be able to provide support for those types of activities that are going on out there,” he said. “This will provide [resource developers] with a closer area where they can bring in their resupply ships and offload crews closer up in the Arctic.” He said expanded port capacity would similarly increase the ability for agencies to respond to emergencies in Arctic waters.

The City of Nome has thrown its support behind the Corps’ plans. Port Commission Chair Jim West Jr. said, ideally, the port could be deepened to 35 feet, but said Friday that “any extension would help us tremendously.”

“The other side of the harbor … is already about 30 to 32 feet deep,” West said, noting that the shelf falls away rapidly further from shore. “I’m thinking 2,100 feet is going to get plenty deep for us,” he said.

The Corps’ plans to expand to a 28-foot depth would likely accommodate larger ships from maritime groups like the U.S. Coast Guard, West said, but would fall short of the biggest fuel tankers transiting Bering Sea waters.

“The bigger the boat we get in here, the better we’ll be,” he added.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be in Nome Tuesday, Feb. 17, to meet city and port officials. The Corps’ full report will be released to the public by the end of next week.

http://www.ktoo.org/2015/02/16/u-s-army-corps-engineers-taps-nome-arctic-port-expansion

now the Gooberment should make Shell pay for all this since they will be the big beneficiaries.

nothing like the public paying for infrastructure that corporations profit from!

another northern project that might grind to a halt (after Shell’s recent announcement)

[B]Work toward deep-water port in Alaska Arctic on hold, Army Corps says[/B]

ADN - Alex DeMarban October 26, 2015

Proposed Arctic development off the coast of Alaska just suffered another hit.

The Army Corps of Engineers said Monday it will put on hold efforts to study the creation of the first deep-water port that would support vessels in the Arctic following Shell’s decision to end its drilling campaign in the U.S. Arctic Ocean.

Shell’s announcement in late September that it would stop drilling in the region raises questions about the port project’s “overall justification” and the economic assumptions about a port’s economic benefit to oil and gas exploration in the Chukchi Sea, the Army Corps of Engineers said in a press statement.

Working with the state, the Corps in 2011 began studying the feasibility of a port deep enough to handle large oceangoing ships. The best option for initial investment called for expanding the port of Nome some 550 miles northwest of Anchorage and dredging the harbor to 28 feet.

But the bulk of the project’s economic benefits were related to the reduction in travel costs for oil and gas support vessels in the Chukchi Sea. The Corps said the economic benefits of a port assumed the development of three exploration wells in the Chukchi Sea by the year 2020.

The Corps announced it would “pause” the feasibility study for one year, rather than terminate it.

“During the next 12 months, the Corps and its partners will monitor Arctic activities to determine if there may be the potential for federal interest in continuing the study,” the Corps said in a statement. “At the end of the pause, the Corps, State of Alaska and city of Nome will assess whether to proceed with the study as is or change the scope of the study to analyze other options.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said it’s “disheartening to see the negative impacts of Shell’s decision continue to ripple throughout Alaska.”

She said the Obama administration recognizes the “pressing need” for Arctic infrastructure, and she’s hopeful the Corps will move ahead with the project in the coming year.

Joy Baker, Nome port director, said the city is “disappointed” but is pleased the Corps is not ending its effort at this point. The city plans to work with Congress, the White House and others to push for a deep-water port. A conceptual analysis pegged the cost of the project at $210 million.

She said a draft feasibility study was close to being finished by the Corps’ office in Alaska.

“The city is fully intending to pursue project authorization based on broader justifications of national security, life and safety, protection of the environment,” Baker said. “We believe there’s a broader purpose for the facility than just the economic benefit of the oil and gas industry.”

With ship traffic steadily growing in the U.S. Arctic Ocean as sea ice retreats, the U.S. Coast Guard has recently said it would maintain a beefed-up presence, including two helicopters, to respond to vessels in distress and other needs.

After completing one well in this summer’s drilling season in the Chukchi, Shell announced it was canceling exploration plans for the “foreseeable future.” The Obama administration also announced it was canceling planned lease sales in the U.S. Arctic Ocean in 2016 and 2017, further reducing prospects for petroleum exploration in the region.

“Typically, a study found to be not economically justified would be terminated; however, because of the dynamic nature of the oil and gas industry and the strong interest in enhanced Arctic marine infrastructure, the Corps and its partners have decided to pause the study, rather than terminate it,” the Corps said.

The Corps said questions and comments on its decision will be considered in determining future steps about continuing the feasibility study once the “pause” ends. Comments may be submitted to AKRegPorts@usace.army.mil.

https://www.adn.com/article/20151026/work-toward-deep-water-port-alaska-arctic-hold-army-corps-says

Just one problem. Nome can never be an Arctic port because it is in the Bering Sea, not in the Arctic. Nonetheless, Western Alaska will benefit from a better port at Nome.

For Arctic ports (Chukchi Sea) Kotzebue and Point Hope are the only logical places. Kotzebue is Deepwater, with daily jet service to Nome and Anchorage, a hospital, a big hotel, and so on. It would just take a couple miles of dredging to get over the bar. There is no reason to do anything at Point Hope unless oil drilling returns for the Long haul.

[QUOTE=tugsailor;172529]Just one problem. Nome can never be an Arctic port because it is in the Bering Sea, not in the Arctic. Nonetheless, Western Alaska will benefit from a better port at Nome.

For Arctic ports (Chukchi Sea) Kotzebue and Point Hope are the only logical places. Kotzebue is Deepwater, with daily jet service to Nome and Anchorage, a hospital, a big hotel, and so on. It would just take a couple miles of dredging to get over the bar. There is no reason to do anything at Point Hope unless oil drilling returns for the Long haul.[/QUOTE]

It is also not north of the Arctic Circle and thus not a true Arctic City or Port.

One question; Isn’t Nome the northernmost possibility for a deep water port in Alaska that is ice free year around??

May I go a little OT here (as usual)?
The origin of the name Nome is apparently still disputed and debated by the locals:

The origin of the city’s name “Nome” is still under debate: there are three theories:
[ul]
[li]That the name was given by Nome’s founder, Jafet Lindeberg: within trekking distance of his childhood home in Kvænangen, Norway, there is a Nome valley (Norwegian: Nomedalen).[SUP][[I]citation needed[/I]][/SUP][/li]> [li]That Nome received its name through an error: allegedly when a British cartographer copied an ambiguous annotation made by a British officer on a nautical chart, while on a voyage up the Bering Strait. The officer had written “? Name” next to the unnamed cape. The mapmaker misread the annotation as “C. Nome”, orCape Nome, and used that name on his own chart;[SUP][3][/SUP] the city in turn took its name from the cape.[/li]> [li]That the name was a misunderstanding of the local Inupiaq word for “Where at?”, [I]Naami[/I].[SUP][[I]citation needed[/I]][/SUP][/li]> [/ul]
In February 1899, some local miners and merchants voted to change the name from Nome to Anvil City, because of the confusion with Cape Nome, 12 miles (19 km) south, and the Nome River, the mouth of which is 4 mi (6.4 km) south of Nome. The United States Post Office in Nome refused to accept the change. Fearing a move of the post office to Nome City, a mining camp on the Nome River, the merchants unhappily agreed to change the name of Anvil City back to Nome.

[QUOTE=ombugge;172543]It is also not north of the Arctic Circle and thus not a true Arctic City or Port.

One question; Isn’t Nome the northernmost possibility for a deep water port in Alaska that is ice free year around??[/QUOTE]

No. Nome is not an ice free port. It’s primarily a tug and barge port. Skim ice starts in mid October, but the port remains open until mid November. By March the ice pack typically extends about 400 miles south of Nome to below the Pribilof Islands. The first spring freight typically reaches Nome through leads in the ice around mid May.

Ice-free port indeed…

[QUOTE=Tups;172556]Ice-free port indeed…

[/QUOTE]

Nice photo. It shows the Russian ice breaking tanker that was brought in to deliver fuel about three years ago, after the tugs and barges were unable to complete delivery before the ice formed. The past two winter have been the mildest on record, but Nome was still iced in for hundreds of miles offshore.

If you enlarge the photo, you can see the two rounded sheet steel docks alongside the causeway. These are called the “outer cell” and the “inner cell”. Small ships can get to the outer cell in good weather. There is also a barge loading ramp inside the harbor, and a dock for fuel barges.

From technological point of view, keeping the port open through the winter wouldn’t be a major feat - you’d need an escort icebreaker, probably some kind of brash ice management system at the quayside, and perhaps a smaller port tug to assist with berthing. However, as long as that’s not economically feasible and there’s no definite need for year-round shipping, it’s not going to happen.

[QUOTE=Tups;172566]From technological point of view, keeping the port open through the winter wouldn’t be a major feat - you’d need an escort icebreaker, probably some kind of brash ice management system at the quayside, and perhaps a smaller port tug to assist with berthing. However, as long as that’s not economically feasible and there’s no definite need for year-round shipping, it’s not going to happen.[/QUOTE]

While it might be technically possible, it sure as hell is not feasible. The freight cost to Nome by tug and barge under ice free conditions is about $2 per pound, or about $6,000 for a typical pickup truck. Nome is the biggest city in Western Alaska, but it’s really a gritty small town. I doubt that the winter population is over 5000 people. Gold mining is the only industry.

I guess oil, gas and perhaps some ores would be the only commodities worth shipping out year round from a place like Nome, but with the current prices even that’s not written in stone. I don’t think the Russians are doing much profit with oil shipped from Varandey, Prirazlomnoye and (soon) Novy Port in these days.

[QUOTE=Tups;172588]I guess oil, gas and perhaps some ores would be the only commodities worth shipping out year round from a place like Nome, but with the current prices even that’s not written in stone. I don’t think the Russians are doing much profit with oil shipped from Varandey, Prirazlomnoye and (soon) Novy Port in these days.

[/QUOTE]

What is that crane thing in the pic???

[QUOTE=Colston1285;172691]What is that crane thing in the pic???[/QUOTE]

It’s the Varandey FOIROT (fixed offshore ice resistant oil terminal). Check 9:31 onwards in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tk2nnn6BFQ&t=9m31s (edit: does not work in the US)

[QUOTE=Tups;172692]It’s the Varandey FOIROT (fixed offshore ice resistant oil terminal). Check 9:31 onwards in this video:

//youtu.be/7tk2nnn6BFQ
[/QUOTE]

When trying to view this video, a message pops up stating that this video is blocked in the Country where you are attempting to view it.

[QUOTE=Tugs;172706]When trying to view this video, a message pops up stating that this video is blocked in the Country where you are attempting to view it.[/QUOTE]

Does this one work (32:56 onwards)?

edit: if the video does not work, here’s Lukoil’s presentation about the oil terminal:

http://www.lukoil.com/materials/doc/img_pr/3.htm

[QUOTE=Tups;172692]It’s the Varandey FOIROT (fixed offshore ice resistant oil terminal). Check 9:31 onwards in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tk2nnn6BFQ&t=9m31s (edit: does not work in the US)[/QUOTE]

Impressive equipment and skilled ship handling.

[QUOTE=Tups;172588]I guess oil, gas and perhaps some ores would be the only commodities worth shipping out year round from a place like Nome, but with the current prices even that’s not written in stone. I don’t think the Russians are doing much profit with oil shipped from Varandey, Prirazlomnoye and (soon) Novy Port in these days.

[/QUOTE]

As I understand it, there is no potential for oil or gas within 400 miles of Nome.

Nome has had substantial gold mining for a long time that has done well with only seasonal shipping. It’s high value low volume business.

The Red Dog mine over 300 miles north of Nome in the Chukchi Sea at Kevilina is the worlds largest zinc producer. It does fine with seasonal shipping. They have a small shallow draft dock and Foss lighters the zinc concentrate a few miles out to foreign flag bulkers.

Unless another high volume mine were to be developed near Nome, I cannot envision any reason for Nome to have year around freight service.

Frankly, the entire idea of expanding the port at Nome (although it would be nice) makes very little commercial sense. That does not mean that it won’t become another large federally funded project with little financial justification. Alaska is full of them.

The world is full of different approaches to exporting mining products. In Europe, one of the largest underground coal mines is located in Svalbard at about 78° N (Nome is at 64° N). The coal is mined through the year and stored in piles by the loading dock and shipped out in Panamax-sized vessels during the open water season. It’s not valuable enough to warrant year-round shipping. However, in Russia, Norilsk Nickel produces nickel and palladium from the world’s largest deposit, Norilsk-Talnakh, located at 69°N, and ships it out year-round. Previously it was done by SA-15 class Arctic cargo ships supported by Arktika-class nuclear-powered icebreakers, but today the company maintains a fleet of cargo ships that can break five-feet ice and operate without icebreaker escort. In Canada, there’s of course Fednav and its fleet of somewhat more conventional icebreaking cargo ships.

[QUOTE=Tups;172746]The world is full of different approaches to exporting mining products. In Europe, one of the largest underground coal mines is located in Svalbard at about 78° N (Nome is at 64° N). The coal is mined through the year and stored in piles by the loading dock and shipped out in Panamax-sized vessels during the open water season. It’s not valuable enough to warrant year-round shipping. However, in Russia, Norilsk Nickel produces nickel and palladium from the world’s largest deposit, Norilsk-Talnakh, located at 69°N, and ships it out year-round. Previously it was done by SA-15 class Arctic cargo ships supported by Arktika-class nuclear-powered icebreakers, but today the company maintains a fleet of cargo ships that can break five-feet ice and operate without icebreaker escort. In Canada, there’s of course Fednav and its fleet of somewhat more conventional icebreaking cargo ships.[/QUOTE]

There is also a Russian operated coal mine on Svalbard. I believe it is still producing coal, but that may not be the main reason why Russia maintain a settlement there.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barentsburg

The Norwegian mines at Svea and Longyearbyen may be shut down and the main business on Svalbard changing to tourism, research and education.