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Jared Peterson spends the equivalent of six months per year on the unforgiving tundra of Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay oil field.

By Hilary Reeves

Jared Peterson started his career as an apprentice equipment operator, and spent his first three construction seasons working for various paving companies.

“As a paver, you don’t get much of a summer, and it wore thin on me,” he explained. “I enjoyed the income, but when you’re 21 years old and live in the outdoors mecca of the country, working your summers away can become tiring.”

Jared Peterson sits on a bench smiling, wearing an orange reflective vest.In August of 2009, Peterson had just finished with a paving job when he received a call from his uncle, Dwight Outwater, who at the time was a manager for NANA Oilfield Services, Inc.

“I liked the sound of working a rotational, full-time job, and promptly packed for a position in Prudhoe Bay,” he said. “I’ve been working in Prudhoe ever since, and have seen a lot of positive changes in my nearly nine years. I started as a spread fuel driver, eventually moving into a position as a bulk tank farm operator, and now currently hold a lead operator position at Northern Oilfield Services, Inc. (NOSI)”.

NOSI operates as a sister company to Delta Western Petroleum under NorthStar Energy.

Peterson was born and raised in Dillingham, and lived there until he was 13, when his family moved to Anchorage. His mother is originally from Selawik, Alaska, and his father is from Anchorage, but has “strong Minnesota roots.”

“I loved living in a small community, and spending time outdoors,” he said. “I grew up wanting a career in aviation, but after graduating high school, I started an apprenticeship with the Local 302 Operating Engineers instead.”

Now on the Slope, he said, developing a close relationship with co-workers is essential.

“You essentially spend half of your year (if not more) working in Prudhoe Bay, and if you get a bad apple, it can ruin everyone’s mood,” he said. “Currently, we’re in the seasonal swing. Our least favorite time of year is when the ice roads melt and the dirt roads become rippled as washboards. I think I’d much rather deal with the cold and have smooth roads.”

And working a two-weeks-on, two-weeks-off shift isn’t without its non-transportation challenges, either.

“Sometimes I wish I had spent more time taking advantage of time off,” he said. “When you work a two week rotation, and have two weeks off in return, you definitely try to budget your income. On the flip side of the coin, I wish I’d spent more of those two-week ‘RnR’s’ taking time to travel and spend more time exploring the state. Not to say that I still can’t do that, but when you have a mortgage and bills to pay, a lot of goals become a little harder to reach.”

Peterson said he’s most proud of having started a career at an early age.

“I can afford to live comfortable and I have plenty of time to spend with friends and family,” he said. “Being outdoors is huge for me. I grew up sleeping in tents every weekend with my family, and it’s carried over well into my adult years. I enjoy doing overnight hikes with my girlfriend, Dana, and our dog, Lana.”

Peterson lives with Dana, Lana, and his younger brother.

“We enjoy being active in a subsistence lifestyle, including fishing, hunting, and recently trying our hand at gardening,” he said. “We all make it a point to have family dinners whenever possible.”

Hi plans for the future, Peterson said, are vague.

“In a perfect world I’d enjoy working with an outdoor company, or working for myself in seafood processing,” he said. “Most of my hobbies stem from the outdoors.”