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Vol. 17, No. 36 Week of September 02, 2012
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

AK-WA Connection 2012: Lynden family moves mountains of goods

Diverse organization serves customers, environment and community across shipping, logistics spectrum in Alaska-Washington trade

By Rose Ragsdale

Alaska-Washington Connection

The Lynden family of companies is one of the premiere transportation specialists providing services in Alaska-Washington commerce. With the combined capabilities of trucks, ocean barges, rail barges, air freight, international ocean forwarding, customs brokerage, remote site construction and multi-modal logistics services, Lynden meets numerous transportation needs of Alaska-Washington businesses.

Weathering the winter

The organization’s ability to thrive in extreme environments served the carrier well during the recent record-setting winter.

“Prudhoe Bay doesn’t get a lot of snow, maybe a foot or two a year, but the little bit we do get doesn’t melt for seven months,” said John Jansen, Terminal Manager at Lynden Transport on the North Slope. “It just blows back and forth all winter causing extreme whiteout conditions, the strongest of which halts all outdoor operations on the oilfield.”

The winter of 2011-2012 was so brutal that even ice road construction was affected.

“At 30 below zero, the water they pour to create the ice roads freezes so fast it becomes difficult to form a smooth surface. It’s been too cold this winter to make good ice,” Bering Marine Captain Jack Rasmussen said earlier this year.

“It’s also been tough on the hovercraft. We’ve had some 68-below days that became 80-below with the wind chill. Our heaters and thermometers stop working in the hangar,” he recalled

Though trucks were left running around the clock, freezing braking systems and valves, and stiff and tacky grease on the fifth wheels made hooking up trailers 20 to 30 times a day a particularly cumbersome, time-consuming and hazardous undertaking.

“It sometimes takes a blowtorch to warm up the landing gear cranks,” observed Jansen.

Conditions became so severe at times that the carrier’s oilfield customers enforced safety shutdowns for all hydraulic powered equipment used outdoors such as forklifts and loaders. When that occurred, Lynden’s Prudhoe Bay team adapted, organizing and stripping loads to build one-stop and two-stop drops during the downtime that they could quickly deliver whenever temperatures rose enough for operations to resume.

Teaming up on transport

Four Lynden companies – Alaska Marine Lines, Canadian Lynden Transport, LTI, Inc. and Alaska Marine Trucking – combine their efforts to transport lead and zinc ore concentrate from the Yukon Territory to Washington via Alaska before delivering it to a smelter in southern British Columbia.

The ore is carried in 16-ton pots moved three at a time on a B-train chassis from the Yukon to Alaska at a total weight of 170,000 pounds. In Washington and British Columbia they are carried two at a time for a total weight of 105,000 pounds.

Canadian Lynden Transport in Whitehorse trucks the ore concentrate 400 miles from the Bellekeno Mine in central Yukon to Skagway, Alaska, where it is loaded onto Alaska Marine Lines barges by Alaska Marine Trucking. Once the barges reach Seattle, LTI Inc. picks up the huge ore pots and transports them to Trail, B.C. 

“This has been an interesting project for us,” said Lynden Regional Manager Vance Jansen. “It’s a good example of the efficiencies that come from multiple Lynden companies working together.” Lynden International also helps out by filing customs entries.

Other specialty assignments tackled recently by Lynden companies include transporting more than 160 loads of contaminated soil via cat train and then trucked from Umiat, Alaska to Franklin Bluffs near Prudhoe Bay and then to Anchorage.

For two years prior to the project, Lynden also trucked the custom-built “cat” train itself to Prudhoe Bay.

Protecting the environment

An industry leader in reducing their carbon footprint, Lynden has made recent design changes in its truck fleet that have improved fuel economy by 23 percent.

“We were working ‘green’ before it became so popular,” said Lynden Inc. Chief Operating Officer Alex McKallor. “From innovative containers to equipment that requires less fuel and reduces harmful pollutants, we are constantly searching for ways to save energy and use resources efficiently. Our culture of innovation and efficiency is in harmony with our commitment to reduce waste and be a model of environmental stewardship.”

Lynden was the first transportation company in Alaska to gain SmartWay certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and to earn the state’s Green Star Award.

Helping the community

Thousands of cases of Girl Scout cookies arrive on pallets at Alaska Marine Lines’ warehouses in Seattle and Southeast Alaska each spring ready to be sorted for distribution to local troops. Alaska Marine Lines donates warehouse space, forklifts and volunteers to the Girl Scouts project.

The project is just one of numerous ways that Lynden companies lend a hand in the communities they serve throughout Alaska and Washington.

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