These are bleak times across much of the nation’s “oil patch.” Layoffs are spreading and rigs are being laid up. One state – Alaska – is defying the trend, at least for now. Industry employment in Alaska remains near-record numbers, according to state data. Producers are pressuring contractors and suppliers to slash rates, but explorers keep lining up in search of black gold.
What keeps the industry interested, and busy, is that really the rocks are great. State geologists say the North Slope has one of the largest oil-generating systems of the world. “The rocks are fundamental,” said Ken Boyd, a former state oil and gas director. “If you don’t have good rocks you don’t have anything.”