BP drills for oil on the North Slope of Alaska and in the Arctic Ocean. There are several oil fields underground there, each producing oil that travels down the Alaska Oil Pipeline to Valdez where it is put on ships to go to refineries.

Each of these blue boxes contains a wellhead. Once a hole in the ground is drilled deep enough, equipment is attached to the top of the pipe that was put down the hole, and then the whole thing is enclosed in a box to keep critters and cold out. The holes are drilled on ten-foot centers, so many wells can fit in a relatively small space. The wells here are on Endicott Island just offshore in the Arctic Ocean.

The substance that comes out of the ground is in three parts: oil, natural gas, and water. These three must be separated from each other, which is what happens right after these blue boxes. All those pipes carry these things to different places to be processed differently: oil to the pipeline; water to be reinjected into the wells; and natural gas also to be reinjected into the wells until BP builds its new $90 Billion Alaska Gas Pipeline (click on view the powerpoint presentation).

The water and gas are injected into parts of the wells to produce pressure that pushes more oil into the hole so that less oil is left at the bottom. If there is not enough pressure, then oil just does not come up the pipe.

Notice the blue sky; it is daylight there for 24 hours at this time of year.

BP tells a story about its commitment to the environment and its action to avoid spills here.

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