Caelus Energy and Jim Musselman are braving polar bears, bitter cold and harsh economic reality.


It’s hard to tell where the world ends here on the Alaska North Slope. In the subzero twilight, when the Arctic winds snarl, snow and cloud stretch to every horizon in a seamless vault of spectral white. Beyond the tundra, five miles out on the frozen sea, oil workers from a tiny outfit called Caelus Energy have welded the drilling rig shut against trespassing polar bears.“Spooky,” one of them says into the whiteness, and he’s right. The North Slope in February is beautifully, impossibly spooky. This is where Jim Musselman hopes to save Alaska, or at least make a fortune trying. In a shallow estuary called Smith Bay, Musselman’s flyspeck company will work to extract an astonishing 6 billion barrels of crude. The nearby tundra, Caelus says, could yield 4 billion more.

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