||Andrew Palmer, Ken Croasdal
||World Scientific Pub Co Inc.
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The Arctic is a region of endless fascination, beauty and excitement. Many writers more eloquent than we are have explored its biology, geography, history and environment. At the same time, it is the home of many people who want to pursue civilised and comfortable lives with the amenities of the 21s1 century. The Arctic seas and the lands bordering them are important to the wider human community as a source of raw materials, above all petroleum, but as well as for fish, timber and mineral ores, and important too for tourism and exploration. Many important reserves of petroleum have been found already, some of those reserves are in production, and the unexplored geology of this vast region has many promising structures: some estimates have it that as much as a third of the petroleum still to be discovered will be found in the Arctic. With that as one priority, we must not forget that the Arctic is uniquely vulnerable to damage: if we make a mess, the consequences will be with us for decades. Oil and gas reserves close to shore can be produced by horizontal drilling, but beyond a few kilometres the petroleum industry will need platforms to drill from and produce to, and pipelines and other systems to bring the petroleum ashore and transport it to markets. Those structures have to operate safely in an extremely demanding environment. The ocean is cold and rough, and for much of the year it will be covered with ice, often in very large pieces. Ice pushes against structures with great force, and drags along the seabed, strongly enough to cut huge gouges. Sometimes the seabed will be partly frozen, and anything we do may alter the thermal regime and thaw or freeze the seabed soil, greatly modifying its physical properties. Almost all the problems of offshore construction in lower latitudes are still present, and there are storm waves and high winds, tidal currents, shifting seabeds and the added challenge of long periods of winter darkness...