Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline System

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.

Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline System is an operating oil pipeline in the United States.[1]

It is also referred to as the Alaska Pipeline, Trans-Alaska Pipeline, or Alyeska Pipeline.


The pipeline runs from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Valdez, Alaska.[2]

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Project details

  • Operator: Alyeska Pipeline Service Company[3]
  • Owner: Harvest Alaska LLC [49.1069%]; ConocoPhillips Transportation Alaska Inc [29.6102%]; ExxonMobil Pipeline Company LLC [21.2829%][4]
  • Parent company: Hilcorp Energy [49.1069%]; ConocoPhillips [29.6102%]; ExxonMobil [21.2829%]
  • Capacity: 2,136,000 bpd
    • Initial maximum design capacity, but averaged 517,868 bpd in 2016[5]
  • Length: 800 miles[3]
  • Diameter: 42 in[3]
  • Status: Operating[3]
  • Cost: US$8 billion
  • Start year: 1977


The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) includes the Trans-Alaska crude oil pipeline, 11 pump stations, several hundred miles of feeder pipelines, and the Valdez Marine Terminal, where oil is loaded onto tankers for shipment to market.

TAPS is one of the world's largest pipeline systems. The crude oil pipeline is privately owned by the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, which was was established in 1970 to design, construct, operate and maintain the pipeline.[6][7]

Construction began in 1974 and was finished in 1977.[3]


The pipeline was built between 1974 and 1977, after the 1973 oil crisis caused a sharp rise in oil prices in the United States. This rise made exploration of the Prudhoe Bay oil field economically feasible. Environmental, legal, and political debates followed the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay in 1968, and the pipeline was built only after the oil crisis provoked the passage of legislation designed to remove legal challenges to the project.[8] The pipeline cost US$8 billion to build.[9]

In building the pipeline, engineers faced a wide range of difficulties, stemming mainly from the extreme cold and the difficult, isolated terrain. The construction of the pipeline was one of the first large-scale projects to deal with problems caused by permafrost, and special construction techniques had to be developed to cope with the frozen ground. The project attracted tens of thousands of workers to Alaska, causing a boomtown atmosphere in Valdez, Fairbanks, and Anchorage.[8]

The first barrel of oil traveled through the pipeline in 1977, and full-scale production began by the end of the year. The first tanker carried crude oil from Valdez on August 1, 1977. Several notable incidents of oil leakage have occurred since, including those caused by sabotage, maintenance failures, and bullet holes. As of 2010, the pipeline had shipped almost 16 billion barrels (2.5×109 m3) of oil.[1][9]

Technical details

Oil going into the Trans-Alaska Pipeline comes from one of several oil fields on Alaska's North Slope. The Prudhoe Bay Oil Field, the one most commonly associated with the pipeline, contributes oil, as do the Kuparuk, Alpine, Endicott, and Liberty oil fields, among others. The pipeline has a maximum capacity of 2.14 million barrels per day (340,000 m3/d).[10][11][12][13]

At the end of the pipeline is the Valdez Marine Terminal, which can store 9.18 million barrels (1,460,000 m3) of oil.[14]

Throughput has declined since the pipeline's commissioning, and was averaging less than 560,000 barrels per day in 2013.[15] Throughput in 2016 averaged 517,868 barrels a day, with four active pump stations remaining in the system.[5]

Articles and resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline System, Wikipedia, accessed September 2017
  2. "Crude Oil Pipelines". 2020-04-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "TAPS Facts - Alyeska Pipeline". Alyeska Pipeline. Retrieved 2023-04-07.
  4. "Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) - Alyeska Pipeline". Alyeska Pipeline. Retrieved 2023-04-10.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Overview of TAPS,", accessed Sep 2017
  6. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. The Facts: Trans Alaska Pipeline System (PDF). Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., 2007
  7. Banet, Arthur "Oil and Gas Development on Alaska's North Slope: Past Results and Future Prospects" (PDF). Bureau of Land Management, March 1991
  8. 8.0 8.1 Coates, Peter A. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline Controversy. University of Alaska Press, 1991
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Pipeline Facts,", accessed Sep 2017
  10. Nelson, Kristen. "Kuparuk Anniversary", Petroleum News. January 27, 2007. Vol. 12, No. 3. Accessed July 15, 2009.
  11. ConocoPhillips. "ConocoPhillips, Anadarko announce start up of second Alpine satellite field", November 27, 2006. Accessed July 15, 2009. Template:Webarchive
  12. Delbridge, Rena. "BP begins development of Liberty oil field project on North Slope", Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. July 14, 2008. Accessed July 15, 2009.
  13. Delbridge, Rena. "Alyeska Pipeline retooling as North Slope oil production declines", Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. April 27, 2009. Accessed July 15, 2009.
  14. BP plc. "Prudhoe Bay Fact Sheet" (PDF), Accessed July 15, 2009. Template:Webarchive
  15. "Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS)," ConocoPhillips Alaska, accessed Sep 2017

Related articles

External resources

External articles

Wikipedia also has an article on Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline System. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.