- May 2017
Alyeska oil pipeline
The oil discovered in the Prudhoe Bay oil field in the North Slope region of Alaska in 1968 was the “largest oil field discovered in North America.” In 1969, a Trans-Alaska pipeline to transport oil from the North Slope was proposed by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was comprised of three major oil corporations. Despite many other ideas and suggestions to transport this oil, the oil industry reached a consensus in favor of the pipeline proposal of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (Busenberg, 2013). Construction of the Alyeska oil pipeline, also known as the Alaska pipeline or trans-Alaska pipeline, began in 1975. This pipeline was built by the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, a group that was made up of seven different oil companies. In certain regions, the pipeline is buried underground, but where there is permafrost, the pipeline is constructed above the ground. The pipeline crosses over 800 river and streams and passes through three mountain ranges. The first oil was delivered from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez on June 20, 1977. This oil had to travel through the 789 mile long pipeline to reach its destination (Alaska Public Lands Information Centers, n.d.). See below for a link to “Pipeline! The story of the building of the trans-Alaska pipeline” video posted on YouTube by the Alaska National Parks service.
Alaska Public Lands Information Centers. (n.d.). The Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Retrieved from Alaska Public Lands Information Centers: https://www.alaskacenters.gov/the-alyeska-pipeline.cfm
Busenberg, G. J. (2013). The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. In G. J. Busenburg, Oil and Wilderness in Alaska (pp. 11-43). Georgetown University Press.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline Project began construction on March 27, 1975. The pipeline was constructed in response to the discovery of oil under the Purdhoe Bay (Alaska Public Lands Information Centers). The project was controversial because environmentalists worried about earthquakes and the effects on elk migrations (Wells). The pipeline is almost 800 miles long and includes pumping stations that connected other pipelines. The pipeline was constructed by the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, which was created by seven oil companies (Wells, Alaska Public Lands Information Centers). The pipeline is mostly below ground, except in areas of permafrost. The sections of pipe that were built above ground were built in a zigzag pattern to account for expansion due to temperature changes (Wells). In unseasonably warm areas, the pipeline is supported by two thicker “heat pipes.” The pipeline was completed on May 31, 1977 (Alaska Public Lands Information Centers). The pipeline first contained oil on June 20, 1977. The pipeline carries about 1.8 million barrels of oil per day. In March of 1989, an oil tanker leaked over 260,000 barrels of oil into the Prince William Sound. This was the second largest oil spill in the United States. The spill covered 1300 miles of land and 11,000 miles of ocean. Images of the pipeline can be seen below. http://aoghs.org/transportation/trans-alaska-pipeline/
"Trans-Alaska Pipeline History." American Oil & Gas Historical Society. June 21, 2016. Accessed May 05, 2017. http://aoghs.org/transportation/trans-alaska-pipeline/.
"The Trans-Alaska Pipeline." The Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Accessed May 05, 2017. https://www.alaskacenters.gov/the-alyeska-pipeline.cfm.