Safety First

Pipeline Facts

Pipeline Facts


The book is updated periodically and includes important dates and events from Alyeska's history, facts about TAPS' design, construction and operations, and timelines and tables of throughputs, shutdowns, and other information.

To request a printed copy of the fact book, contact Alyeska Corporate Communications at (907) 787-8870.

There are over 124,000 heat pipes along the pipeline. These pipes transfer ground heat into the air to ensure soil remains stable and able to support the pipeline.

Thickness of the pipeline wall: .462 inches (466 miles) & .562 inches (334 miles).

The Trans Alaska Pipeline System cross the ranges of the Central Arctic heard on the North Slope and the Nelchina Herd in the Copper River Basin.

The pipeline ends at the Valdez Marine Terminal.

The pipeline is often referred to as "TAPS" - an acronym for the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.

The Trans Alaska Pipeline System starts in Prudhoe Bay and stretches through rugged and beautiful terrain to Valdez, the northernmost ice-free point in America.

The Trans Alaska Pipeline System was designed and constructed to move oil from the North Slope of Alaska to the northern most ice-free port in Valdez, Alaska.

The Trans Alaska Pipeline System is protected by three separate leak detection systems that are monitored at the Operations Control Center in Anchorage.

Some 420 miles of the 800-mile-long pipeline is elevated on 78,000 vertical support members due to permafrost.

Telluric currents caused by the same phenomenon that generates the Northern Lights can be picked up by the pipeline and zinc/magnesium anodes. The anodes act like grounding rods to safety return these currents to the earth reducing the risk of damage to the pipeline.

The high point of the pipeline can be found at Atigun Pass with an elevation of 4,739 feet.

The Operations Control Center (OCC), located in Anchorage, monitors and controls pipeline and terminal operations 24/7.

Booster Pumps are located at all pump stations to move oil from the storage tanks to the mainline.

Cleaning pigs sweep the pipe of built up wax, water or other solids that precipitate out of the oil stream. They also prevent the built-up of corrosive environment and makes the oil easier to pump.

Crosses three mountain ranges and more than 30 major rivers and streams.

Grade, maximum: 145% (55%) at Thompson Pass.

Length: 800 miles.

Maximum daily throughput was 2,145,297 on January 14, 1988.

Miles of buried pipeline: 380.

More than 13,000 tankers have been escorted through Prince William Sound.

More than 18 billion barrels have moved through TAPS.

More than 170 bird species have been identified along the trans-Alaska pipeline.

Mountain ranges crossed by the pipeline: Brooks Range, Alaska Range and Chugach Range.

Pig: A mechanical device that is pushed through the pipeline by the oil to perform various operations on the pipeline without stopping the flow of oil.

71 gate valves can block oil flow in either direction on the pipeline.

Air temperature along route: minus 80 F to 95 F.

All laden tankers are escorted more than 70 miles through the Prince William Sound into the Gulf of Alaska.

Average tanker turnaround time at the Valdez terminal is 22 hours and 20 minutes for berthing, offloading ballast, loading crude and deberthing.

SERVS (Ship Escort/Response Vessel System) exists to prevent oil spills by assisting tankers in safe navigation through Prince William Sound.

SERVS (Ship Escort/Response Vessel System) has contracted over 350 fishing vessels for incident response in Prince William Sound.

SERVS (Ship Escort/Response Vessel System) maintains one of the world's largest inventories of oil spill response equipment including more than 42 miles of boom and 100 skimmers, with a total recovery capacity of more than 75,000 barrels per hour.

The Valdez Terminal covers 1,000 acres and has facilities for crude oil metering, storage, transfer and loading.

The pipeline project involved some 70,000 workers from 1969 through 1977.

The first pipe of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System was laid in 1975.

Construction began March 27, 1975 and was completed May 31, 1977.

Construction Time: 3 years, 2 months.

OCC can initiate an emergency shutdown which will stop flow and isolate the pipeline in 15 minutes.

Cost to build: $8 billion in 1977, largest privately funded construction project at that time.

Diameter: 48 inches.

First oil moved through the pipeline on June 20, 1977.

First tanker to carry crude oil from Valdez: ARCO Juneau, August 1, 1977.

Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was established in 1970 to design, construct, operate and maintain the pipeline.

The Trans Alaska Pipeline System was originally designed with 12 pump stations, though it was decided that only 11 were needed and a 12th was never built.

Oil was first discovered in Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope in 1968.

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