Largest Oilfield in North America

Prudhoe Bay

Strong winds and dense fog did not allow us to set up a base-camp at Teshekpuk Lake. I had hoped to cover the area around the lake because of plans to open up vast parts of the lake to oil drilling. In 2006 the Department of the Interior  sold leases to 500 000 acres in and around Teshekpuk Lake. 

It already is late in the afternoon and the fog sealing is slowly lowering.  We decide to fly out towards Prodhoe Bay. Because of the strong wind we fly extremely low over the ground to where we gain a few miles an hour in speed. It does not take long and we see the first man-made structure: a test well. This is only the beginning. For the next 60 miles we see one industrial structure after  another. 

People often only envision a small developed spot in the arctic landscape around the Prudhoe Bay area. The truth is, that the Prodhoe Bay Oilfield is the biggest oilfield in North America. The main operating companies are PB, Conoco Phillips and Exxon Mobil.

Most of the activity happens in the midst of winter while it is easier to move equipment across the frozen tundra. While the industry is using special tires to keep down the damages, I see long tracks in “vergin” landscapes made by the heavy machinery. Those tracks are encrouching on the Teshekpuk Lake area, one of the most important arctic bird habitat in the world.

I will try to cover more of the habitat and wildlife at Teshekpuk Lake over the next weeks as the weather gives us a break. Teshekpuk Lake is such an important ecological gem, that oil development simply must not go forward. Stay tuned!

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Über Florian

Als professioneller Naturfotograf widmet sich Florian Schulz dem Schaffen von einzigartigen Naturaufnahmen. Seine Bilder werden in Magazinen wie National Geographic, BBC Wildlife und GEO veröffentlicht. Schulz stammt aus Süddeutschland und verbringt im Jahr durchschnittlich acht bis zehn Monate im Feld, um mit seinen Fotografieprojekten gesamte Ökosysteme zu dokumentieren.

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