TAPS: Supporting Alaska

Media Resources

Advanced Fast Water Response Training/Exercise

Alyeska held an Advanced Fast Water Response Training/Exercise on June 25-29, along the Salcha and Tanana Rivers. The five-day Advanced Fast Water Course was a highly challenging training designed to focus on the most difficult portion of response in fast water: containment and control actions. Due to the length and intensity of the Advanced Fast Water Responder Course, it pushes responders to a higher level of skill development by fostering team concepts and leadership experience, using specific tactics and strategies within Alyeska’s Oil Spill Response Training Program.  
Participants came from TAPS pump/response stations, SERVS, Houston Contracting Company, Ahtna, Alaska Clean Seas (ACS), Rampart Village Responders, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from Alaska, Idaho and Oregon, and Clean Harbors OSRO of New Jersey. 
Training exercise instructors were: Earl Rose, James Pence, Ben Pennington, Steve Hood, Walt Henry and Gary Breen. 
Some of the facts of the training include: approximately 70 participants, 12 OSCP trailers, 15 vessels, a helicopter and a drone.

Drone use evolves on TAPS

Constant inspection and surveillance of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System infrastructure is necessary for flawless, safe operations. But investigating remote stretches and hard-to-reach areas of the 800-mile pipeline and its supporting facilities, sometimes in difficult conditions, can take countless labor hours, and incur high costs and even higher safety risks. 
In recent years, a group of visionary thinkers with leading-edge ideas at Alyeska, among TAPS contractors and beyond introduced an emerging technology that made the work safer, more efficient and more accurate: unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones. This modern revamp of age-old TAPS tasks earned the group this year’s Atigun Award for Innovation. A group of 45 people from three organizations shares the honor.
“This wasn’t an award that recognizes just a few people or one organization,” said Vernen Lee, Merrick Project Manager and Alyeska Survey Contractor. “If you look at the recipients, this was a TAPS-wide effort.”
Alyeska and TAPS contractors use drones to monitor remote streams and creeks, get closer looks at difficult and dangerous-to-access infrastructure and landscapes, and capture data at new levels of accuracy. What used to be cumbersome work, usually produced in helicopters by numerous surveillance crew members, is now done with relatively small and lightweight drones with a few operators standing safely on the ground.
In 2017, TAPS workers utilized a drone to diagnose a troublesome and mysterious problem around a fiery, 106 foot-tall PS1 flare tip. Instead of flying a crew in a helicopter around the flare or even shutting down the flare for closer inspection, teams used a high-quality camera mounted on a drone to get a clear and safe view that provided the perspective and data to make a replacement decision.
Drone surveillance and 3D mapping now provide the accurate measurements that have eliminated the risk of workers climbing onto riprap and gravel to obtain inventory data. Drone footage also provided the first as-built 3D drawing and terrain map of Gunnysack Creek in November 2017. The HD topographic mapping allowed engineers to analyze and implement a plan to further protect buried pipeline. 
“Safety is the most important benefit,” said Jacques Cloutier, Alyeska Civil Survey Support Engineer and a drone implementation team lead. “Less exposure to the elements can reduce potential for injury on difficult walking surfaces and dangerous heights, and even limit the amount of time workers have to spend outside in cold temperatures.” 
Lee added that drones help workers spend less time climbing ladders and scaffolding, and using cranes. Increased drone use also reduces helicopter flights, which drops operating costs and minimizes related safety risks.
The concept of drone use on TAPS started in 2015 as a group of employee hobbyists were developing their piloting and video skills. They formed an informal committee to examine potential benefits and worked through federal regulations about UAS use by following models used around Alaska by other companies, including BP on the North Slope.
Successes of drone use and their imaging systems were instant and groundbreaking: they provided new perspectives of the visible spectrum, allowing Alyeska to detect and address issues sooner than in the past. 
“The possibility of more accurate data collection will ultimately lead to more informed and better decision making along TAPS,” added Cloutier. 
That accuracy in surveying and site mapping, as well as successes like the flare tip diagnosis, have sparked requests from Alyeska departments on how drones can reduce risk and increase efficiency on a variety of other projects.
Cloutier said Alyeska is just scratching the surface of the potential work that drones can provide on TAPS. He has already used them to inspect bridge crossings for potential ground movement at the South Bank of the Yukon River during May 2018. Cloutier is confident they can provide near real-time ROW and infrastructure surveillance that can keep an eye on valves, pipes and leak detection, as well as support security. 
“Alyeska gave us the opportunity to perform and evaluate the data over time,” said Lee. 
Currently, drones must be flown within sight of the operators. But, UAS federal regulation may be changing in the near future that would make allowances for organizations, including TAPS. Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and Beyond Visual Line of Sight remotely piloted aerial system operations will expand the range of safer, more effective observation. And a new partnership with UAF could further increase the use of drones along TAPS and other industries.
Merrick’s drones already have a full schedule of work lined up this summer, including one notable project: working with Alyeska’s technical spill contingency teams during yearly containment drills. During a live drill, a drone will capture video of response effort teams so that footage can be used for post-drill review and areas for improvement.  
Lee echoed Cloutier’s confidence for drone use.
“People realize that this will be a game-changer in how Alyeska performs future work in the field,” Lee said. “After testing the concept on the flare tip and mapping several parts of TAPS, it is clear how reliable and trustworthy the technology is.”
The individuals being recognized with this Atigun Award are: Alyeska’s Alex Lai, Casey Ahkvaluk, Brittany Barnes, Daryl Beeter, Tom Betz, Nate Carson, Jacques Cloutier, Monte Geerdes, Verne Griffis, Mike Hale, Lorena Hegdal, Keith Hoffman, Phil Huelskoetter, Scott Iverslie, Lorraine Maroney, Janna Miller, Scout Monegan, Joseph Nash, Shaune O’Neil, David Ratky, Bob Stirling, Jeffrey Streit, Renier Swart, Rick Weinrick and Vol Williams; Merrick’s Doug Baum, Amber Castano, Travis Cronin, Joe Donohue, Andrew Garett, Allen Holt, William Hudson, Greg Johnson, Tim Koerber, Ben Kramer, Vernen Lee, Patrick Long, Diane Morelli, Shain Osgood, Geoffrey Preston, David Tassie, Sam Toms, Chris Velez and Scott Wood; and CASI’s Kent Freem

800 reach the finish line at Pump 1's Fun Run

Runners and walkers joined together at Pump Station 1 July 17 and 31 to participate in the 23rd annual 5K Fun Run along the pipeline.
North Slope workers don't often get the chance to come together for outdoor activity or take in all the views of the pipeline and the tundra that runs alongside the ROW. Active-wear is not necessary to participate in the race, and some prefer to keep their steel-toes and FR gear on during their walk or jog.
With annual events come annual traditions. As always, T-shirts with an artistic view of TAPS Milepost 0 were given to participants. Pink the Pig made another appearance as the run's mascot and brought a new friend, the "$mart Pig," to join in this year's festivities. Light snacks were shared at the finish line, along with a strong sense of TAPS pride and event volunteer support.
New activities were introduced, as well. To further promote healthy choices and test everyone's knowledge of TAPS, trivia questions were posted along the route for athletes to contemplate until answers were revealed at the finish line.
"For the crew at PS 1, it isn't about the T-shirt but around showing pride in TAPS," said Hal Eppley, P/L Field Material Coordinator and long-time event coordinator. "Workers on the North Slope look forward to this fun run each year, and continue to support the event."

Fresh perspectives: 2018 summer interns tour TAPS

Ten Alyeska summer interns recently joined a group of new hires and long-time employees who have never toured TAPS for a five-day excursion along the route from Fairbanks to Valdez, which included visiting pipeline facilities and learning more about TAPS operations. 
The 30 participants piled into a Coach Tour bus with trip leaders Bob Stech, Design Engineering Supervisor, and Ed Davis, PS 04 Engineer, and packed in a full itinerary with stops at:
• Fairbanks to tour the DIF and warehouses, with an explanation of how hot-tapping occurs
• North Pole Metering and Nordale Yard
• PS 08 to view the Point Source Heat System
• Tanana River crossing
• PS 09
• Remote Gate Valve (RGV) 108
• PS 10 and the Y045 efforts
• Denali Fault
• Glennallen Response Base and MLR unit
• PS 12
• VMT Crude Oil Path and learn about the Z716 progress
• VMT Power Vapor
• VMT Ballast Water Treatment 
Bob Stech volunteered to lead a pipeline tour for the first time last year, which had just five participants. This year’s larger group didn’t slow down the trip plans, though. He encourages Alyeska employees to take any chance they can to get out and see what’s going on along the line. 
“You get a better understanding about what’s in the field,” Stech said. “The pipeline tour can give new hires a sense of the size, capacity or weight of equipment or part of a project they are working on. Not only does it get our urban and field employees face time together, but it helps employees understand how remote and unique our operations are.” 
Here are some of the comments and photos from a few of the 2018 summer interns about their pipeline tour experience. 
“The pipeline tour not only gave me the opportunity to see oil movement, facilities and operations, but it gave me the chance to meet amazing people along the way,” said Keelah Fisher, Mechanical Engineer Intern.  “It truly is the people that make the company. I also got to see projects that I’ve been working on this summer, which was extremely exciting!”
“I really enjoyed the trip,” said Collette Kawagley, Mechanical Engineer Intern. “Being able to learn so much and see actual systems in person is very helpful.” 
“This trip was phenomenal, and I don’t think I could have asked for a better guide than Bob Stech,” said Robert Clark, Mechanical Engineering Intern. “He gave us a lot to absorb and think about during the trip. Ed Davis was also added countless stories about each site of the tour. The trip was really motivating for me and gave insight to the pride people have for TAPS. I am grateful to be a part of Alyeska and have the opportunity to work here. Thank you to everybody that helped make this trip possible and showed us around.” 
“It was truly amazing to go out and learn from the most experienced and passionate individuals who work directly on the pipeline,” said Emma Chastain, Accounting Intern. “The amount of knowledge and stories that so many shared made me proud to be a part of an innovative company that works to the highest standards every day.”
“The pipeline has so many various aspects to it, and you can always learn something new every day,” said Lowen Guzman, Mechanical Engineering Intern.
"The pipeline tour with Bob Stech was a phenomenal learning experience for everyone including myself on the tour,” said Curtis Richardson, Construction Management Intern.  “I think employees in any department would benefit from a tour like this. Bob did a real service for Alyeska, and I know he put in a lot of work to coordinate the week. So, another thanks to Bob and all the other long-time Alyeska employees who cared about educating everyone on the tour through their stories about their time on TAPS.”
“It was a great trip, I learned a lot that I wouldn’t have just sitting behind a desk,” said Kyle Sun, Mechanical Engineering Intern. “The trip allowed me to connect my work with the pipeline itself, and gave me the chance to meet the people who have boots on the ground and implement any decisions made in the office. I also learned about the importance of consulting and communicating with people in the field to gain a deeper insight." 

Alyeska's Otter Rehabilitation Facility earns environmental honor

The Alaska Oil and Gas Association recently recognized Alyeska's Otter Rehabilitation Facility, its recent upgrade and demonstration, and the wide-ranging teams that completed the effort, with the AOGA Industry Award for Project of the Year for Environmental Stewardship and Innovation.
Based at the Valdez Marine Terminal (VMT), the Otter Rehabilitation Module, also known as the "Otter Hospital," is a rare facility designed to treat and rehabilitate otters affected by an oil spill. It was originally designed and built in the mid-1990s. In 2017, Alyeska upgraded and fully demonstrated the facility to confirm optimum readiness and fit-for-purpose for deployment during a spill response, which led to the award recognition.
"It feels awesome," said Stacia Miller, Alyeska's Wildlife Response Coordinator who has overseen the Otter Hospital since 2013. "All the people and teams connected with it are so dedicated. And I think it's exceptional that our company cares enough to have something like this."
The facility is innovative by design as a contingency marine mammal hospital and unique in its scale. It has cleaning and holding rooms, a nursery, a clinic and a necropsy unit, and provides necessary space and equipment for receiving, weighing, sedating, cleaning and drying otters. Up to 20 otters can be treated within the hospital per day with up to 100 recovering in the holding unit. The in-water pre-release holding facilities can accommodate up to 250 otters.
That may sound exciting, but in reality the Otter Hospital is a modular, conex-based contingency facility that is not in continuous use, frequently operated or regularly deployed. The facility consists of 16 conex units and associated supports, loading platforms, walkways and mechanical and electrical hookups.
In the event of an oil spill, the units, which are housed at the Valdez Marine Terminal Emergency Response Base, must be fully operational within 72 hours of notification. For compliance purposes, Alyeska must occasionally demonstrate that.
Fortunately, the facility has not been needed for a spill. But after 20 years of sporadic use, compliance set-ups and teardowns, and long stretches of storage, the facility itself needed a rescue – or as SERVS determined, a major remodel.
After months of planning and ordering needed equipment, the remodel was underway in 2016. The work included a full remodel of core hardware and finishes such as cabinetry, and interior and exterior paint. All plumbing and electrical systems were tested and repaired or replaced as needed. Non-skid flooring surfaces were also added. Desks, appliances, scales, medical supplies, and a decontamination station were also added.
Miller said that these improvements will extend the facility's useful life and optimize function, and "when the update was completed, the facility looked too good to not show others."
So in 2017, the units were set-up in the VMT’s Emergency Response Building (ERB) as part of an annual exercise field deployment. Although the exercise was the driver for the setup, there were other objectives, Miller noted. It would serve as training for employees and interested external parties, a chance to update and create new training materials, and to examine if past lessons learned and known improvements were implemented during deployment.
The deployment kicked off on February 23, 2017. Houston's Baseline crew installed the units and walkways; Alyeska's Instrumentation, Electrical and Mechanical Maintenance teams installed the electrical and plumbing systems. It was quickly determined that units could easily be set-up within the 72-hour compliance mandated timeline. 
SEED Media, a Valdez-based contractor that often assists with SERVS training videos, created two videos – one focused on the mobilization and set-up of the facility; the other video shared what would happen once the facility was in use. 
The SERVS contingency response planning team organized an exercise. Leaders and innovators in the field of marine mammal rehabilitation from International Wildlife Research (IWR) and Alaska Sea Life Center led the treatment demonstration, walking all participants through the steps of triage, cleaning and caring for sea otters. Numerous agencies participated, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Coast Guard and Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council. Alyeska staff from SERVS, Environment, Safety, and Operations also participated.
Miller said that, "observers were impressed with the level of expertise demonstrated by IWR and Alyeska's well-maintained facility. Very few lessons learned were gleaned from debrief, which shows the intense level of thought, preparation and hard work that were put towards creating a functional otter hospital. In fact, the hospital was so well received that it resulted in Alyeska receiving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Regional Director's Excellence Award as Outstanding Partner."
In a nomination for the AOGA award, Jan Shifflett, Alyeska's Sr. Environmental Manager, wrote, "Comprehensive success in prevention, preparedness, and response is not a singular effort or action by Alyeska, agencies, or other stakeholders. Collaboration and partnership with all involved entities generates optimal and mutually beneficial outcomes. Achievement is collective and interconnected. The Otter Rehabilitation Module upgrade and demonstration provides an example of agencies, marine mammal experts, and industry working together to ensure environmental stewardship through best practices, collaboration, and innovation." 
The AOGA Industry Award for Project of the Year for Environmental Stewardship and Innovation annually honors an Alaska oil and gas industry project that demonstrates superior environmental stewardship in its area of design, construction or operation and/or an innovative approach that sets a new standard for industry design, construction or operation in Alaska.

New group of summer interns joins Alyeska teams

Alyeska's 2018 summer interns have arrived. From left to right, Dorothy Lord Matthew (Alyeska Senior Alaska Native Program Coordinator) and interns Emma Chastain, Robert Clark, Lowen Guzman, Cory LePore Jr., Curtis Richardson, Cooper McLaughlin, Keelah Fisher, Steven Glasheen, Collette Kawagley, Brandon Bachman, Henrique Miller, Noah Lovell, Kendra Robbins, Zach Howard, and Lisa Booth (Alyeska Alaska Native Program Director). Not pictured, interns Sydney Belz, Kristopher Don and Kyle Sun.
Seventeen interns with Alaska roots have joined Alyeska to develop work experience and sharpen professional skills in the 2018 Summer Internship Program.
On May 21, Alyeska kicked off the summer intern session. Interns will spend the summer working in Anchorage, Fairbanks, at the Valdez Terminal, and at pump stations along TAPS. As they approach the end of summer, each intern will showcase their development and personal projects during a final presentation.
"This is an exciting time for us introducing a new group of talent that could take part in the future of TAPS," said Lisa Booth, Alyeska's Alaska Native Program Director. "In this years' class we have a cross section covering many areas of the company, from technician interns at Pump Station 1 and VMT, and interns in engineering, business and projects in Anchorage, Valdez and the field. I'm very proud of this program and the overall commitment across the organization to make it successful and to immerse the students in meaningful work experiences that introduce interns to what a career on TAPS would be like."
Booth added that interns play an important part in Alyeska's Alaska Native Utilization Agreement program, which develops and trains students interested in pursuing careers in the oil industry.
Cory LePore Jr. is this year's lead intern; he will take on additional duties this summer such as coordinating meetings and networking opportunities for his fellow interns. Four returning interns will continue applying what they learned last year to new projects, furthering their experience and knowledge of TAPS. 
This summer's interns are: 
• Brandon Bachman of Anchorage, a computer systems engineering student at UAA who will work in IT in Anchorage.
• Sydney Belz of Anchorage, a mechanical engineering student at UAF who will work in Engineering Standards & Programs in Anchorage. 
• Emma Chastain of Anchorage, an accounting major at the University of Arizona who will work in Accounting in Anchorage. 
• Robert Clark of Douglas, AK, a mechanical engineering student at UAA who will work in Projects in Anchorage. 
• Kristopher Don of Palmer, a process technology/instrumentation graduate at UAF who will work in Pipeline Operations at Pump Station 1.
• Keelah Fisher of Anchorage, a mechanical engineering student at UAA who will work in Projects in Anchorage.
• Steven Glasheen of Bethel, a mechanical engineering student at UAA who will work in Pipeline Engineering at various pump stations. 
• Lowen Guzman, originally from Hawaii and now a longtime Alaska resident, a student of mechanical engineering at UAA who will work in O&M Engineering in Valdez. 
• Zachariah Howard of Valdez, an energy systems electrical engineering tech student at Idaho State who will work in Maintenance I&E in Valdez.
• Collette Kawagaley of Anchorage, a mechanical engineering student at UAA who will work in Engineering Standards & Programs in Anchorage. 
• Cory LePore Jr. of Bethel, who has a degree in economics from UAF and will work in the Engineering Standards & Programs in Anchorage.
• Noah Lovell of Fairbanks, a marketing student at UAF who will work in the Corporate Communications in Anchorage. 
• Cooper McLaughlin of Palmer, an electrical engineering student who will work in O&M Engineering in Valdez.
• Henrique Miller, originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, now a resident of Talkeetna, an electrical engineering student at UAA who will work in Ops Engineering in Anchorage. 
• Curtis Richardson of Anvik, a construction management student at UAA who will work in Projects in Anchorage. 
• Kendra Robbins of Anchorage, an electrical engineering student at UAA who will work in Engineering Assurance & Support in Anchorage. 
• Kyle Sun of Anchorage, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Denver who will work in Ops Engineering in Anchorage. 
Alyeska's summer internship period runs through early September. Recruitment for 2019 internships begins in September 2018. For more information about Alyeska internship opportunities, contact Dorothy Lord-Matthew at (907) 787-8640 or visit

ECO tugs, barge and crews exercising in PWS

The first three vessels of the new Edison Chouest Offshore fleet -- and numerous crew members and captains -- that will take over the Alyeska Marine Services Contract in July arrived in Port Valdez in March. They're already hard at work, performing in a variety of major exercises and drills in Prince William Sound.
The escort tug Commander, general purpose tug Elrington, and the oil spill response barge OSRB-1 spent recent weeks performing more than 30 tether/tow exercises, crucial barge deployments with fishing vessels, and learning the ins-and-outs of Valdez operations. Here are some images of the vessels and crews in action. Training/exercises in the weeks ahead include more demonstrations and exercises.
Two more vessels, the Courageous and Latouche, are en route to Alaska and expected to arrive in late April/early May. The full fleet of five new escort tugs, four new general purpose tugs, four new oil spill response barges, five new escort work boats and more will be in Valdez by June. All are standard design and purpose-built for work in Prince William Sound.
Meanwhile, ECO mariners continue a range of training, as well. That includes hands-on and classroom work, bridge coordination training at AVTEC in Seward, and time in a custom-built simulator at ECO headquarters in Louisiana. By the end of 2018, ECO mariners will have completed more than 20,000 collective hours of Alyeska/Prince William Sound-specific training.

Alyeska among World’s Most Ethical Companies for seventh year

Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is one of the World's Most Ethical (WME) Companies® for the seventh year in a row. The Ethisphere® Institute announced its selection today and will honor recipients at the 2018 WME Honoree dinner on March 13 in New York.

"Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is honored to receive this distinction again," said Tom Barrett, Alyeska President. "It is a tribute to the professionalism and integrity of the people who operate the Trans Alaska Pipeline System."

In 2018, 135 honorees were recognized, spanning 23 countries and 57 industries. The twelfth class of honorees had record levels of involvement with their stakeholders and their communities around the world. Measuring and improving culture, leading authentically and committing to transparency, diversity and inclusion were all priorities for honorees.

"While the discourse around the world changed profoundly in 2017, a stronger voice emerged. Global corporations operating with a common rule of law are now society’s strongest force to improve the human condition. This year we saw companies increasingly finding their voice. The World's Most Ethical Companies in particular continued to show exemplary leadership," explained Ethisphere’s CEO, Timothy Erblich. "I congratulate everyone at Alyeska Pipeline Service Company for being recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies."

The Ethisphere® Institute is the global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices that fuel corporate character, marketplace trust and business success. Ethisphere has deep expertise in measuring and defining core ethics standards using data-driven insights that help companies enhance corporate character and measure and improve culture. Ethisphere honors superior achievement through its World’s Most Ethical Companies recognition program and provides a community of industry experts with the Business Ethics Leadership Alliance. The full list of the 2018 World's Most Ethical Companies can be found at

Transition Transmissions: Progress, enthusiasm, engagement

AK VOICES: Improved prevention, response capabilities coming to Prince William Sound
Alyeska President Tom Barrett recently wrote about the progress and enthusiasm behind the transition of Alyeska's marine services provider for Prince William Sound operations from Crowley Maritime to Edison Chouest Offshore. Read the column, which ran in the Juneau Empire and other Alaska newspapers.

It's quintuplets! Edison Chouest Offshore is building five identical escort tugs for operations in Prince William Sound: the Commander, Courageous, Contender, Champion and Challenger. The Commander (right in the two-boat photo above) launched in November and will arrive in Prince William Sound in early March. The Courageous (left above) launched in December and will soon chug over to Tampa where crews will install its drives (enormous propellers) and skeg (a large keel).


School's in session! Edison Chouest Offshore kicked off its three-week training programs in October at its headquarters in Galliano, Louisiana. Masters, mates, engineers and tankermen participated in the training that focused on getting them ready for work in the pristine environment of the Prince William Sound this summer. It also introduced Alyeska's safety culture and our Ship Escort/Response Vessel System's (SERVS) mission-specific training. In this photo, crew members practice inflating SERVS'current-buster boom, shipped to Louisiana for the training along with skimmers and power packs that SERVS stages for oil spill response.

In November, Alyeska brought some longtime Vessel of Opportunity Program participants to check out the Oil Spill Response Barges (OSRBs) under construction in Portland, Ore. Torie and Troy from Cordova were able to get a glimpse of OSRB-2 and 3. Even better, they boarded OSRB-1, the first vessel to launch! The new Edison Chouest Offshore barges feature nearly open decks with lots of the usual features tucked below. This is great because a clearer deck means a safer work space for busy crews deploying boom and other equipment. That's Troy and Torie in the photo above; the OSRB-2 is in the photo below.



Check out this 100-disk Crucial skimmer! It's the largest ever made and one of eight specially fabricated for the four new Edison Chouest Offshore open water barges arriving in Prince William Sound this spring. Two go on each barge and their fuzzy disks can skim up to 50 percent more oil than standard skimming systems.

An Edison Chouest Offshore crew member sits in the captain's chair of the custom-built escort tug simulator in ECO's training center in Louisiana. The simulator – created by ECO with input from Alyeska, TAPS tanker captains and pilots, and others – lets crews practice communication and bridge resource management. It's like a video game offering real-world knowledge and incredible education ... no quarters necessary! And in a few months, crews will install the simulator at the ECO's Valdez office.

Roy and David Totemoff of the Tatitlek Corporation and Tatitlek IRA Council even had the chance to take some spins on the Edison Chouest Offshore vessel simulator in May!


=In 2017, Alyeska led several tours of Edison Chouest Offshore shipyards and other facilities for Prince William Sound regulators and stakeholders. Participants included the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council board members and staff, SERVS' Vessel of Opportunity captains, community leaders from around the Sound, state and federal officials and many more. These visits were especially important opportunities for ECO to hear directly from PWS neighbors about their concerns and lifestyles. One group of stakeholders was able to visit the general purpose tug, Elrington, in an ECO drydock at Port Fouchon, La. They got an up-close-and-personal view of the "smaller" tug before it relaunched and started sea trials. This tug sure doesn't look small to us, but it's all relative when you're talking about these incredible and massive vessels!

HANDS-ON EXPERIENCEThe vessels may still be in the Lower 48, but Edison Chouest Offshore captains are already getting firsthand experience working in Alaska's winter weather and conditions. Beginning in October 2017, ECO captains and other personnel started rotating through Valdez a week at a time, learning about Alyeska's Ship Escort/Response Vessel System and riding along on Crowley tanker escorts. This will continue until all ECO tug captains have had the Valdez experience.

2017 marked an amazing year of progress on the marine services transition. While Alyeska, Edison Chouest Offshore, Crowley and others worked in a variety of areas, the headway was most visible in vessel construction. Over the course of the year, staff and regular visitors to ECO shipyards saw small pieces of steel cut and welded together to create larger and larger units until they began to take familiar form, and eventually and excitedly became tugs (like the Commander) that will arrive in Prince William Sound this spring.


Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council board members, staff and volunteers have visited Edison Chouest Offshore shipyards several times in 2017. In June, a group visited LaRose, La., to see the Commander under construction. For all visitors who walk past these giant vessels in dry dock, it's impressive to watch all the parts and pieces come together to create these amazing and massive boats. And it never gets old!












Get any good gifts for Christmas? The first Edison Chouest Offshore escort tug got propellers and a skeg! Hardworking crews in Tampa, Fla., installed the large controllable-pitch propellers and a keel-like skeg on The Commander over the holidays!














Start your engines! The Edison Chouest Offshore escort tugs each feature two 6,168 horsepower Tier 4 engines -- that's 12,336 HP, a 20 percent increase over the current escort tugs! The engines and generators are lowered into place fairly early in the construction process, and other units are installed around them. Check them out below and learn more about the specs on these spectacular vessels at


A Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council staff member looks through the forward staple of the new Edison Chouest Offshore tug Elrington during a recent tour. There's so much to see when you visit these ships! And we've been excited to share these experiences with partners and stakeholders from Prince William Sound and beyond.

Resilience revisited: TAPS and the Denali Fault Earthquake

November 3, 2017, was the 15th anniversary of the 7.9 magnitude Denali Fault Earthquake. To mark the milestone, the U.S. Geological Survey shared a 2003 fact sheet that revisited the event, explored the earthquake's impact and noted the resilience of TAPS. The report begins:

A powerful magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck Alaska on November 3, 2002, rupturing the Earth's surface for 209 miles along the Susitna Glacier, Denali, and Totschunda Faults. Striking a sparsely populated region, it caused thousands of landslides but little structural damage and no deaths. Although the Denali Fault shifted about 14 feet beneath the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline, the pipeline did not break, averting a major economic and environmental disaster. This was largely the result of stringent design specifications based on geologic studies done by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and others 30 years earlier. Studies of the Denali Fault and the 2002 earthquake will provide information vital to reducing losses in future earthquakes in Alaska, California, and elsewhere. …

The Denali Fault earthquake ruptured the Earth's surface for 209 miles, crossing beneath the vital Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline, which carries 17% of the U.S. domestic oil supply. Although slightly damaged by movement on the fault and by intense shaking, the pipeline did not break in the quake, averting a major economic and environmental disaster. This success is a major achievement in U.S. efforts to reduce earthquake losses.

Click here to read the full report, which includes a link to an earlier fact sheet, "The Trans-Alaska Pipeline Survives the Quake – A Triumph of Science and Engineering."

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