Deadhorse Aviation Center
Providing new infrastructure for North Coast activity
At a time when some feel the future of North Slope operations is declining, one company believes in the future of Alaska’s oil and gas industry and the need for infrastructure to support its future growth. That is why in June, Deadhorse Aviation Center LLC will be opening the Deadhorse Aviation Center (DAC), a 70,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility unlike any seen before on the North Slope.
What once started as a vision for Sherron Perry, founding owner of Fairweather LLC, is turning into a reality as final completions on the DAC structure are under way. Originally designed in 2006 to support offshore activities by Shell Oil Co. and smaller ventures in the Arctic Ocean and Beaufort Sea, the design concept has since grown into that of the largest facility of its kind on the North Slope. “Offshore Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) exploration is an important part of Alaska’s future and the DAC will provide an integral part of the framework necessary for successful offshore programs and operations,” Perry says.
Jointly owned by Fairweather LLC, Offshore Support Services LLC and Kaktovik Inupiat Corp., the DAC is a multimodal aviation facility complete with a large hangar, logistics and incident command centers, a full-service medical clinic, airport terminal, cargo handling capabilities, personnel accommodations, offices, conference rooms and dining facilities.
“The Deadhorse Aviation Center goes a long way to providing the infrastructure needed to respond to any incident on the North Slope or the Outer Continental Shelf and will be a crucial component when an Alaska gas line is finally under way,” Perry says.
Conveniently located to the north of runway 5, the DAC has secure access to the Deadhorse taxiway and runway. With perfect proximal access to roads, airport and the ocean, it is an ideal solution for oil companies and their suppliers to successfully manage their North Slope onshore and offshore exploration and production operations in the safest, most cost-effective manner possible, according to Perry.
The final building concept was redesigned over the last few years to accommodate a wide range of users from the OCS exploration projects to independent exploratory wells. “This structure is perfect for some of the smaller oil companies actively engaging in the marketplace that lack the framework necessary to expand their operations,” Perry says.
Careful consideration was given to anticipating and meeting the needs of present and future development of North Slope resources. The success of the Deadhorse Aviation Center required a thorough understanding of the deficiencies that currently exist on the North Slope. According to the Deadhorse Airport Master Plan, current North Slope airport facilities and infrastructure that were constructed in the 1970s are inadequate to meet the current needs of the oil industry. Input was sought from multiple sources, including OCS operators, security concernss, aviation companies, and IT and communications specialists along with various drilling groups. Design was also influenced by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG).
The Deadhorse Aviation Center has a hangar capable of accommodating two to three large helicopters or fixed wing aircraft and is equipped with state-of-the-industry safety, fire suppression, environmental and ergonomic features required by most international operating companies, according to Perry. The DAC terminal will be TSA/US Customs and Border Protection compliant, offering passenger and baggage screening, secure baggage handling and secure cargo handling. Additionally, the DAC will be the only airport in the area with design for heated Jetways.
The DAC will also facilitate cargo handling requirements unique to both onshore and offshore operations. This includes everything from counter-to-counter package service to managing heavy equipment loads and hazmat materials handling. The facility will have the capacity to load and unload all aircraft systems from C-130’s to helicopters.
Logistics on the North Slope is a continual challenge for all companies working in the area. The logistics center at the Deadhorse Aviation Center will provide a secure full-service solution at the north end of the Alaska road system. The facility will combine state-of-the-industry personnel and cargo handling systems with 10.4 acres of pristine gravel perfectly situated for staging, storage and materials handling.
The DAC has a fully equipped Fairweather Medical Services Clinic that will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year to respond to everything from routine medical care to emergency triage, stabilization and evacuations. While current clinics on the North Slope cater almost exclusively to larger oil company clients, the DAC will have complete state-of-the-art medical facilities that will provide quality services to companies of any size in the area. Occupational health screenings, drug and alcohol testing, return to work examinations, fit for duty evaluations, as well as case management will all be offered at the Fairweather Medical Clinic.
Without question, the added medical capabilities the DAC will bring to the area will save lives. Acute care, including advanced cardiac life support and ER physician consultation will be an integral part of the Fairweather Medical Services Clinic. In the event a medical evacuation is necessary, near-future plans include a full-time Medevac jet available for immediate transport, after a patient has been stabilized, to larger hospitals in the state. This reduction in transit time will ensure critical care patients are given the best chances of survival.
OFFICES AND ACCOMMODATIONS
Beyond the aviation and logistical capabilities available at the DAC, newly designed and furnished office suites and personnel accommodations are available at the facility for its tenants. This state-of-the-art building is not only beautiful, but highly functional and comfortable. There are generous living accommodations for 48 personnel that include private bathrooms and satellite television as well as laundry and exercise facilities. The kitchen and dining room facilities comfortably accommodate 60 people.
The fully secure professional suites are designed in office clusters, which provide privacy and functionality to each of the building tenants. Also available are training facilities; conference rooms complete with video conferencing capabilities; IT systems that include high speed Internet access and Wi-Fi throughout the building; as well as communication systems for phones, satellites and voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) technology. Rental equipment such as vehicles, fork lifts and survival suits will be available in addition to other marine and offshore gear.
The companies behind the Deadhorse Aviation Center LLC are Offshore Support Services LLC (an Edison Chouest company), Fairweather LLC and Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. These diverse companies bring a unique synergy to the project.
Fairweather LLC is an Alaska-based company founded in 1976 by Sherron Perry. He started his business providing aviation weather observation services. Responding to the needs of the growing oil and gas industry, Perry started performing logistics and expediting services. Over the years, Fairweather has grown into a full-service company providing a diverse scope of remote services, which include full medical support services, meteorological and oceanographic forecasting, aviation equipment and lighting, weather observers, bear guards and a full staff of health, safety and environmental professionals.
Offshore Support Services and their parent company Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) has built its reputation as one of the most diverse and dynamic marine transport solution companies by staying at the forefront of new technologies and recent advances in the areas of subsea support and global communications. Founded in 1960 in Galliano, La., ECO operates a growing fleet of more than 200 vessels and serves a continually expanding customer base. Chouest’s experience in marine services, logistics and technologies brings a level of expertise to the Deadhorse Aviation Center that will elevate the capabilities of companies on the North Slope, according to Perry. A solid working relationship with the USCG has been instrumental in addressing the needs of not only the tenants of the DAC, but also ensuring all compliance requirements imposed by the USCG are met as well.
Combining efforts with the Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. was a natural choice—not only because of the long standing relationship the Native corporation has with Fairweather, but also for the local knowledge the organization brings to the project. “Working with Native corporations has always been a symbiotic relationship,” Perry says. “Not only do they bring us knowledge about the areas we do business with, we are able to provide employment and education opportunities to their people that might not otherwise be available. Building confidence between villages and oil companies is what makes North Slope drilling projects possible.”
While there has been great interest in the Deadhorse Aviation Center, no firm leases were in place at the time of this interview in mid-January. The cost of constructing the facility is estimated at $35 million. The investors of this ambitious project are not concerned. “We are in this for the long haul,” says Perry. “The backers of this project see the need and demand for a facility like ours. We are confident that the increased production and drilling activity on the North Slope and offshore will fully utilize the new Deadhorse Aviation Center.”
PHOTO: Judy Patrick Photography
RENDERINGS: Curtis Bingham Architects Alaska / Courtesy of Fairweather LLC