Overcoming Obstacles to Deliver Fuel Across Western Alaska
Marine Experience, Assets Allow Crowley to Serve Even the Most Remote Areas
Alaska is an expansive state, with a wide diversity of geography, accessibility, and weather conditions. With its significant size and limited infrastructure, Western Alaska is one of the most challenging areas for companies like Crowley Fuels to serve.
To deliver the fuel customers across Western Alaska depend on, Crowley Fuels faces some of the state’s most punishing conditions, unwelcoming environments, and isolated locations. The company has spent nearly 130 years amassing experience and developing assets to deliver fuel safely, efficiently, and dependably to meet the needs of homes, businesses, and industry in more than 280 communities across Alaska, including those in the remotest corners of the state.
With skilled crews and unique assets, such as custom-built, double-hulled, shallow-draft vessels, Crowley can successfully navigate otherwise inaccessible near coastal and inland locations, in water as shallow as two-and-a-half feet. Innovative strategies such as floating hoses, beaching barges, and offshore lightering allow Crowley to quickly, safely and efficiently deliver fuel to some of Alaska’s most remote locations.
One of these locations is Point Lay, where residents depend on Crowley’s fuel delivery each year. Historically, fuel here was delivered by small barges that traversed back and forth across a large intertidal lagoon. However, the process was time consuming, inefficient and posed an increased risk to the environment.
The high stakes and short operating window demanded a new solution. Today, in a display of innovation and logistics best practices, Crowley deploys 7,000 feet of collapsible, floating hose to deliver fuel from barge to beach in one seamless transfer. What once took a crew of 30 30 days, now takes a handful of operators less than three days.
Another example can be seen in the remote community of Barrow, nearly 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where Crowley must navigate sea ice, swell and crashing waves to deliver fuel in between bouts of punishing weather.
“We’ve proudly served Alaska for more than 65 years, and zero harm to people, property, and the environment has been and continues to be the highest priority for the Crowley team.”
Here, Crowley gets in and out as quickly as possible using an innovative approach that involves offshore lightering and shallow draft barges on the beach. The operation involves a fuel barge or tanker positioned offshore, a beach barge set up to pump fuel 24 hours a day, and a mule barge that moves back and forth between the two.
In addition to the experienced mariners and innovative vessels operating in Western Alaska, Crowley has skilled crews and extensive assets serving Alaska’s highway system. Crowley’s trucking fleet is the youngest in the industry in Alaska, and the company has been honored with the ConocoPhillips Alaska/Alaska Trucking Association Industrial Fleet Safety Award five out of the last eight years.
“Regardless of where, how or how much fuel is delivered, Crowley’s focus is always on quality, service, reliability and safety,” says Trish Skoglund, Crowley’s vice president of sales and supply. “We’ve proudly served Alaska for more than 65 years, and zero harm to people, property, and the environment has been and continues to be the highest priority for the Crowley team.”
Learn more at CrowleyFuels.com.
In This Issue
Alaska Problems Require Alaska Solutions
On January 16, a fire destroyed the water plant and washeteria in the southwest Alaska village of Tuluksak. For the village of about 350 people, it was a devastating blow. The water plant was the only source of drinking water in the village, in which the primarily Yup’ik residents lack indoor plumbing and rely on honey buckets, not uncommon in the flat, swampy region.