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North of the Arctic Circle

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Six miles north of Alaska’s Arctic coast, the 5-acre man-made island juts out from the Beaufort Sea amidst the sprawling Arctic. It is Northstar Island, created  almost 20 years ago to develop an oil pool 12,500 feet below the seabed. On this August day, rippling water surrounds the tall cranes and several large buildings that are the island’s most prominent features. Soon, however, snow will blanket the island and the blue waters will change into ice thick enough to support supply trucks. Sunlight will be virtually nonexistent. Even at this time of year, shifts of workers will keep the oil flowing. Their round-the-clock dedication brings 11,000 barrels of oil to the surface every day, over four million barrels a year.