Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
December 2019

Vol. 24, No.50 Week of December 15, 2019

TAPS moves 18 billionth barrel of crude

Since startup of pipeline in 1977, North Slope oil has put $145 billion in state coffers; Alyeska chief Tom Barrett nears retirement

Kay Cashman

Petroleum News

On Dec. 6 the 18 billionth barrel of North Slope crude began moving down the trans-Alaska oil pipeline from Pump Station 1 at Prudhoe Bay to the port of Valdez - more than double what was originally projected.

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., operator of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, or TAPS, said in a Dec. 9 press release that since the startup of the 800-mile pipeline on June 20, 1977, North Slope crude alone has brought in an estimated $145 billion in revenue to state of Alaska coffers, transforming Alaska from a frontier state to an economic force.

“TAPS workers achieve these milestones with a laser focus on safety and the environment. Our team just marked 26 million hours of work without a serious injury,” said Alyeska President Tom Barrett.

For more than 42 years, TAPS has safely moved oil from Prudhoe Bay south to Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port in the United States. The pipeline traverses three mountain ranges, permafrost regions and 34 major rivers and streams.

Alyeska personnel work in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Valdez and at pump stations and response facilities all along the pipeline. They also operate the Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, or SERVS, for Prince William Sound.

Alyeska was created to construct, operate and maintain TAPS for owner companies which currently are BP Pipelines (Alaska), ConocoPhillips Transportation Alaska, ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. and Unocal Pipeline Co.

Construction of TAPS began in 1974. The pipeline itself was the largest privately funded infrastructure project ever undertaken in America at the time, at about $8 billion. In October 1975, about 28,000 people were working to make it a reality. While TAPS once carried 2.1 million barrels of oil per day, accounting for a full quarter of America’s supply, today it runs just one-quarter full

$24B in works says Moriarty

Alaska Oil and Gas Association President and CEO Kara Moriarty congratulated Alyeska on its milestone in a press release following the company’s announcement.

“TAPS is our economic lifeline and a source of great pride for Alaskans. It’s hard for many of us to imagine life without the pipeline, but it’s worth emphasizing the enormous economic contribution the oil industry makes in Alaska. We know this proud legacy can continue as industry considers approximately $24 billion in new opportunities in legacy and new fields in the coming decade, and Alyeska continues to harness new technology and innovation,” said Moriarty.

“Billions of barrels of oil remain on Alaska’s North Slope. Alaska’s economic future is under our feet, and with the right investment climate, we will bring that oil to market, preserving Alaska jobs and funding vital services,” she said.

AOGA is a professional trade association whose mission is to foster the long-term viability of the oil and gas industry in Alaska for the benefit of all Alaskans.

In a Dec. 9 press release the Alaska congressional delegation said they appreciate the years of service by Admiral Barrett in his role as Alyeska president: “As he approaches a well-deserved retirement, this 18 billionth barrel is a significant capstone to a remarkable career.”

When TAPS turned 40, the delegation said Barrett wrote: “Though there has been a lot of change on TAPS in 40 years, one unwavering constant remains: the commitment of the people who work on TAPS today to provide safe, reliable, operational excellence, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, resilient amid all of Alaska’s extreme geography and weather.”

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