Waiting at Anchorage for one of the twice-a-day Alaska Airlines flights to Prudhoe, I get a hint of the seriousness of the situation: BP has commandeered all the seats on planes to the oilfield in a desperate bid to fly in the hundreds of extra workers needed to replace the faulty pipeline.
They have also booked all available charter planes.
My photographer and I endure a nine-hour wait before we finally get two stand-by tickets.
Ninety minutes into the flight, on which I am the sole woman apart from the stewardess, the pilot announces: "We are now passing over the Arctic Circle." I don't know if this is supposed to excite me, but I look down on to flat, barren nothingness.
The men, while delighted to see a woman - there are fewer than a dozen here, mostly working as cleaners and cooks - are reluctant to talk about the current crisis. "But it's worth it because the money is more than you'd make anywhere else.
Three hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle, the vast tundra wilderness stretches as far as the eye can see. Constant icy blasts of wind blow clouds of dust over the barren grassy flatlands.
Each day, dozens of 18-wheel monster trucks carrying everything Deadhorse needs, from loo rolls to food and equipment, travel this road, along with a few intrepid adventure tourists.
The supplies end up at the General Store, where I desperately try to find any clothes to fit among the racks of extra-large men's jeans, boiler suits and steel-capped boots.
At the inn, a large rusting metal hut with 36 rooms offering 'three hots and a cot' (three meals and a bed) manager Rick Poquette greets me with: "My God, I haven't seen a skirt up here since the oilfield opened in 1977."I notice a huge red warning sign pinned to the notice board proclaiming that alcohol is banned by state law, and alcohol-related offences are punishable by a jail sentence of up to five years. Well, it's not a town, more a rough-and-tumble oil camp.
You've got 2,000 guys with nothing to do, no women and loads of money.