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Vol. 13, No. 29 Week of July 20, 2008
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Petroleum Directory: Alaskan designer produces camp with comfort

North Slope workers could soon be relaxing in their own private rooms at the end of a long shift, thanks to John Wagner’s ingenuity

Sarah Hurst

For the Petroleum Directory

When John Wagner had to share a room with someone who was using a sleep apnea machine that hummed all night, he decided that life in Alaska’s remote camps would be vastly improved with the addition of some privacy. Last summer Wagner conducted a survey of 130 people waiting for flights out of the Deadhorse airport, and they all agreed: having to share bedrooms and bathrooms was their number one complaint.

“When you come home from working 14 to 16 hours a day, you don’t want to deal with a 19-year-old playing Nintendo all night,” Wagner told Petroleum News. So he designed a camp consisting of eight single rooms, each with their own showers, toilets and widescreen TVs. He also dealt with the other issues the survey participants had talked about, chief among them being high noise levels, stale air and the inability to control the temperature in camps. People told stories of blankets freezing to the walls. “You either freeze or you’re cooking in your room,” Wagner said.

Working for Anchorage-based Kuukpik Arctic Services at the time, Wagner took his concept to the headquarters of Stallion Oilfield Services in Houston and pitched it to that company’s management. They were impressed, and Wagner spent 21 days straight sitting with Stallion’s CAD expert making the rough design into something that could be built. The plans were drawn up by Anchorage-based EEIS Consulting Engineers. The camp measures 30 feet by 60 feet, totaling 1,800 square feet.

Camps meet local code

In his career with Kuukpik, Wagner had found that he was spending a great deal of time retrofitting camps that were designed by companies based outside Alaska and that didn’t comply with the local construction code or fire regulations. “You had people ordering camps that really had never stayed in them,” Wagner said. As a lifelong Alaskan he knows what is needed here, and he has ensured that every component of the camp, from windows to washbasins, can be purchased in Alaska, which cuts down the wait for replacement parts.

Some features of this camp make it more expensive than average — especially the single rooms — but that is offset by the fact that it can be assembled in just six hours, compared with several weeks or even months for other camps. Diesel fuel provides power for the camp’s radiant floor heat, outside air is pumped into each room through a filter and exhausted through a filter, and the windows keep most noise outside where it belongs. “We didn’t skimp on this,” Wagner said. “We wanted to give the guys in the field what they wanted.”

Stallion is sending 20 of the camps to Deadhorse this spring on spec with the goal of leasing them out. There’s no shortage of interest, judging by the number of senior company representatives who visited a camp that was set up temporarily in the Sears Mall parking lot in Anchorage. The only part missing is the kitchen: companies using this camp will have to provide a separate kitchen facility.



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