Bowhead Transport Co. LLC is wholeheartedly embracing the changing business landscape in Alaska by developing new relationships such as its new joint venture with Crowley Marine Services Inc.
Seattle-based Bowhead is entering its fourth decade as provider of marine cargo transportation and the only regularly scheduled barge services to and among the seven communities on the North Slope, including Barrow and Prudhoe Bay.
Owned by Ukpeavik Iñupiat Corporation (UIC), the Alaska Native village corporation of Barrow, Bowhead was created in 1982 in response to a need for scheduled commercial village freight service to Alaska’s Far North. Since its inception, the company has expanded its services and in a typical year, hauls about 6,000 to 10,000 short tons of construction materials, heavy equipment and general cargo during open-water season north from Puget Sound. And before the Chukchi and Beaufort seas ice over in the autumn, Bowhead transports another 5,000 short tons in a yearly backhaul south to the Seattle area and beyond.
Bowhead also barges lateral freight between the villages and calls at other locations on the Arctic Coast to meet the needs of government agency, military and oil and gas clients.
This year, Bowhead scheduled a tandem-tow sealift to the North Slope in June, followed by a turnaround trip south to Anchorage where its barge took on load of construction materials bound for infrastructure projects in Barrow and Kaktovik. The company also aimed to backload hazardous material, containers and other back-haul to Seattle in September.
The special cargo bound for Kaktovik included an entire barge load of foam packages in super bundles for insulating a new airport runway under construction by SKW and 70 prefabricated modules to be used mainly to construct a new hotel for Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and some housing units for UIC, said Bowhead General Manager Jim Dwight.
To support these services, Bowhead also solicited bids for construction of a 150-foot shallow draft landing craft, specifically designed for deliveries on the North Slope to complement its common carrier, project carrier and oil and gas industry services.
Dwight said the vessel will be built in a Pacific Northwest shipyard and then shipped to the North Slope. The company, meanwhile, has formed a committee to come up with an appropriate name for the new craft.
JV brings new opportunitiesThe Alaska-based joint venture, launched in April, operates under the name UIC Bowhead-Crowley LLC. It mainly serves Alaska’s oil and gas industries by supporting their growing needs in the Arctic.
Because of the companies’ strong ties to the communities in which they work, they are able to facilitate local hire and provide local expertise.
“This new partnership is really tailored to meet the needs of customers in the oil and gas; mining and minerals; and engineering, procurement and construction management industries,” said Crowley Vice President Bruce Harland in announcing the JV. “Crowley has provided turnkey marine solutions in the Arctic for many years utilizing the company’s diverse capabilities, assets and world-class project management skills. Our solutions team is very much looking forward to working with Bowhead to provide greater value to customers with multifaceted marine and offshore construction-related projects.”
Dwight said the joint venture enable Bowhead and Crowley to combine their respective 30 years and 60 years of experience in oil company-related marine transportation
“We decided it would be a very good fit, between our know-how, assets, logistical expertise,” he said.
Dwight said the JV will provide greater efficiency, lower costs, expanded capabilities and higher value to primarily oil and gas industry customers.
Among UIC Bowhead Crowley’s first customers is ExxonMobil, which awarded the JV a three-year contract to provide services such as shuttling freight between Prudhoe West Dock and Point Thomson for ExxonMobil for pad development.
Dwight also envisions new opportunities for the JV to haul contaminated soil from military sites on the North Slope and to support remediation projects with its southbound backhaul from primarily U.S. Department of Defense-related cleanup operations all over the North Slope.
“We’re looking at having the joint venture construct new-build vessels that would be owned and operated by the JV,” he said.
Partners offer spill response servicesOther opportunities await the JV to support services training, oil spill response, maintaining spill response equipment, pollution control and boom deployment services in cooperation with UIC Arctic Response Services LLC, another new company launched in April by Bowhead’s sister company, UMIAQ.
A subsidiary of UIC Professional Services, UMIAQ partnered with OCS Ventures LLC to create UIC Arctic Response Services. UMIAQ is majority owner of the new venture. By working with OCS Ventures, the two organizations have greater reach and access to the requisite expertise, experience, and resources that effectively position the new company for future work.
The intent and objective of UIC Arctic Response Services is to ensure a fully integrated, proactive, and programmatic approach to work, which is customer focused, flexible, and designed to consistently deliver in a way that achieves the highest possible level of stakeholder confidence. Instilling stakeholder confidence is only achieved with a comprehensive oil spill prevention and response program that effectively meets the needs of the region’s residents, federal and state regulators, and exploration and production companies.
Like all UIC companies, UIC Bowhead Crowley and UIC Arctic Response Services also bring training and employment opportunities to UIC shareholders, their descendants and spouses, and other residents throughout the region.
“We’re cultivating new services in our existing market, and that’s rather exciting,” added Dwight.