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Alyeska Community Connection: Fairbanks Children's Museum

Even in the Interior's coldest winter months, learning opportunities are warm and welcoming for children and families thanks to the hands-on fun of the Fairbanks Children's Museum's exhibits and programs. This inspiring learning is fueled by passionate staff, volunteers and partners like Alyeska.

The museum's curriculum was developed by invested and certified teachers, museum educators, and a staff member who obtained their masters in theatre for young children. With over 40,000 visitors per year, the Fairbanks Children's Museum has become the third-most visited cultural institution in Fairbanks. 

After operating as a traveling exhibit for its first six years, the museum moved into its permanent downtown location in 2015. While the finishing touches were being made in their soon-to-be headquarters in the former Woolworths building, the owners took their operations for a test-run in the Museum of the North.  

Brenda Riley, Fairbanks Children's Museum Executive Director, recently talked about the museum, its Interior impact, and its partnership with Alyeska and TAPS, which has helped the museum's growth. 

From your perspective, what kind of impact has 40 years of TAPS operations had on the Fairbanks area? 
"The support from Alyeska and TAPS workers over the past 40 years has promoted education and development of youth that are the next generation of our state and workforce. We draw inspiration from local companies like Alyeska because they serve the people of Alaska and don’t shy away from the seemingly impossible. We thank Alyeska for 40 years of dedication and congratulate them on their milestone!"

Alyeska supports the Fairbanks Children's Museum's annual Exploration of Food and Wine Gala fundraiser. What is special about this event? 
"Only 180 people can attend and many are Alyeska employees. Last year, Alyeska donated a safety package that included a set of Bridgestone Blizzaks tires and cold weather gear. Alyeska is truly concerned with safety and preparedness! The audience greatly appreciated the humor of our staff holding up a tire in our event attire. The safety package was auctioned off and raised $2,000 to continue curriculum development and operational financing. This event keeps the doors at the museum open and the ability to bring in a great set of staff members."

The Fairbanks Children's Museum and Alyeska partnership began a year before the museum found its permanent downtown home. Please tell us more about the evolution of the museum.
"When Alyeska first joined the museum's family of supporters, we were in the middle of performing tests on the feasibility of the model and location. Our prototype at the Museum of the North was about to launch to ensure that the children’s museum was going to be a lasting need in the community. Our location is in the heart of downtown Fairbanks; the museum launch was a great addition to the recent revitalization effort of the area. We had our 2014 Gala and the support we received from Alyeska and other donors help launch the successful program we run today."

Tell us about some of the popular programs that families love. 
"Our museum has a variety of exhibits and activities – a few are permanent fixtures but we keep everything dynamic through a changing theme every month and temporary activities. We are proud that community support has helped us invest in a water table, an air maze and a pin screen. Fresh content is always available to returning children through the Imagineering lab and art projects. This month, the theme is transportation, so all of our crafts and lessons teach kids about trucks, planes, trains and more. Kids crave consistency, so we keep some permanent exhibits open for them to return to, but we always want them to experience new things through the power of play."

Pipeline Partners: AOGA's 40 Years at Prudhoe Bay

The 40th anniversary of TAPS operations wouldn't be possible without another significant milestone: 40 years of Prudhoe Bay production. To celebrate the history of the North Slope and the impact that the oil and gas industry has had on Alaska, the Alaska Oil and Gas Association recently launched its 40 Years at Prudhoe Bay website:

The site is fascinating, fun and informative, and uses an interactive map and timeline to engage and inform the visitor. There are also videos and stories, pages about Alaska's oil and gas legacy and celebratory events, and an extra-special page dedicated the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.

On the TAPS page, you can get an overview of the pipeline’s history and TAPS sustainability, get TAPS facts and watch exciting, historic videos.

Click here to check out the 40 Years at Prudhoe Bay here.

Pipeline Partners: Valdez U-Drive

TAPS at 40 in the news: "Midnight Oil" podcast tells TAPS tales

Get your earbuds ready! Alaska Public Media's Alaska's Energy Desk is producing a podcast series called "Midnight Oil," which promises to "tell the story of the pipeline that changed everything for Alaska."

The Energy Desk team has traveled TAPS, learned about its past, present and future operations, and spoken to current and former Alyeska and TAPS workers for this project. The first episode of the series arrives on June 20, the 40th anniversary of TAPS operations; a promo for the series has already been posted.

Learn more and subscribe at the iTunes Podcasts app and on Alaska Energy Desk's Facebook page.

#TAPSGenerations: The Reiswig/Brewi family

Roland Reiswig
Valdez Fire Safety Industrial Hygiene and Security, Retired, 17 years on TAPS
Father of Bill Reiswig, Grandfather of Melany Brewi


Bill Reiswig
Valdez Marine Terminal Operations Supervisor, Retired, 28 years on TAPS, 26 at Alyeska
Father of Melany Brewi


Melany (Reiswig) Brewi
Compliance Analyst based in Valdez, 5 years at Alyeska


What does working on TAPS mean to you?
 "I was fire chief at Elmendorf when Alyeska hired me but I didn't know anything about the pipeline. When I met my counterpart, we hit it off and he took me through the ropes. … We always looked forward to working together and we'd have family get-togethers on our weeks off. The guys at the pump stations became family."

Bill: "Having the benefit of understanding the support and value TAPS has provided to Alaska and elsewhere means a lot. TAPS benefits our country, this state, and a lot of people in different ways. For my family, in return for our service, Alyeska provides the opportunity to enjoy a prosperous and rewarding livelihood."

Melany: "I feel that my work, my role, has meaning and is valued."

Roland: "Alaska without the oil industry and TAPS, we'd be in a lot of trouble."

What's your favorite moment working on TAPS?
 "In my 17 years, I worked the whole line and I enjoyed every bit of it. When I was riding the line, especially in the northern district, I'd pull over, grab my lunch and watch Dall sheep and take pictures."

Bill: "I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of amazing people and the good fortune to have made many lifelong friends. I've had the most fun working as a Project SPOC. When the weather is nice, there is no other place on TAPS I would rather be than out on the loading berths."
Melany: "I have had several experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life. If I have to pick one, it was in late 2014 when the tanker Liberty Bay made its debut at the Valdez Marine Terminal. I spent the afternoon on one of the tugs and it was amazing to watch the show!"

How special is it for you to have family connections at Alyeska and on TAPS?
 "I'm proud of both of them. My son just retired and he built a house next to me in Palmer. … And I hear from people in Valdez that Melany is doing a good job."

Bill: "When I reflect on it, I think there are probably not many kids in this world that grow up thinking they would like to work on a pipeline transportation system when they grow up. I wanted to be an astronaut, or a fireman like my dad. The fact that TAPS is celebrating 40 years and there are literally generations of ancestry working here demonstrates how rewarding a career on TAPS can be."

Melany: "It is special and I hope that someday I might have the opportunity for one of my children to join us. … When people ask about my thoughts regarding family on TAPS, for me, I sincerely feel like it extends further because there's Andres Morales, my first boss, and Mike Day and so many others who have immeasurably invested in making this so much more than just a job. It is a family and I am incredibly proud and immensely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it."

40th anniversary community event: Fairbanks, June 20

#mypipelinestory: Al Liguori, TAPS construction-era engineer

In 1960, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) established its annual Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Project award. The honor would recognize a "project that best illustrates superior civil engineering skills and represents a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society. Honoring the overall project rather than an individual, the award is to celebrate the contributions of many engineers."

Award-winners since have included ambitious, creative and even breathtaking projects like Cape Canaveral Space Center (1966), the St. Louis Gateway Arch (1967), Denver International Airport (1997), the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge (2012) and New York City One World Trade Center (2017).

In 1978, ASCE shined its worldwide spotlight on a rare and special engineering icon – the Trans Alaska Pipeline System. Al Liguori was a young Exxon civil engineer assigned to the headquarters engineering staff for the Alaska Pipeline Project from 1975 to 1978. He was part of the team that received the ASCE honor.

"The TAPS Project was really a no-brainer as far as winning, compared with other nominated projects," he explained. "The project received a lot of national attention for many years during the design phase, as well as delays due to environmental issues, ultimately required an Act of Congress authorizing its approval."

While the honor was special, Al added that it wasn't exactly a convenient time for a celebration.

"In terms of the project recognition, it's fair to assume there was a lot of pride and satisfaction," he said. "But I'm not sure many of the Alyeska, Owner Company loanees, major engineering firm technical consultants on loan to Alyeska, Field Construction Engineers and Project Managers, and all the state of Alaska and Federal Regulatory agency oversight staff were aware at the time of the award won by Alyeska. Everyone was still very busy with completion of construction activities, as well as preparations for startup of the pipeline. As usual, it was a very hectic time."

Al held numerous positions for Exxon and Alyeska during TAPS construction and his work allowed him to travel Alaska and eventually the world. It also gave him the opportunity to work with people who guided his career. Exxon's Bob Neukirchner, his initial supervisor when he arrived in Anchorage in November 1975; Dr. Hal Peyton, who Al called "one of the premier arctic engineering experts at the time and an amazing man to work for and learn from" (ASCE eventually named its annual Arctic Engineer Award after Hal and several former Alyeska engineers have received this award over the years); and Dr. Jim Maple, the Structural and Seismic Engineering Supervisor for TAPS during project design and construction.

Now retired and living in Highlands Ranch, Colo., Al enjoyed reflecting on his time on TAPS and 40 years of its operations.

"The whole experience of being part of the building of the pipeline was exciting for my wife Penny and I," he said. "We have many fond memories of the friends we made, the myriad of engineering and construction challenges that the project team overcame, as well as the beauty of Alaska. An additional highlight for us was the birth of our son Michael on Christmas Day 1976."

He added, "Congratulations to everyone at Alyeska on this milestone anniversary. It's a remarkable achievement given the original design basis was to operate the pipeline for 30 years. My best wishes for continued operations of the line for many more years to come."


Pipeline Partners: 1stStrike Asset Management

It takes a lot of equipment to keep TAPS operating. Engines and excavators. Generators and graders. Skid-steer loaders and dump trucks. Trucks, four-wheelers, snowmachines and boats.

And when Alyeska slims down its fleet or gets rid of no-longer-needed-or-wanted equipment, those items can help small Alaska businesses and Alaskans keep running, too.

Every summer, Alyeska and Alaskans get together for some equipment excitement orchestrated by 1stStrike Asset Management. Alyeska and 1stStrike have teamed up since 2008 for the Alyeska Annual Surplus Auction, which is now the largest auction in Alaska. (The 2017 Alyeska Annual Surplus Auction is scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, June 17.) At the auction, Alyeska lightens its surplus load, creates space for new equipment and makes money on sales while Alaskans and small business owners get the opportunity to score cool equipment at great prices. 

Prior to the partnership, Alyeska staff allocated valuable time and resources trying to get rid of surplus equipment. Sometimes it was easy, sometimes it was exhausting. Working with 1stStrike has made that process efficient, effective and, ultimately, easy.

"Alyeska used to have a surplus of equipment and materials that would take a lot of time to go through and sell," explained Joseph Wichorek, Alyeska Contracting Officer. "The surplus equipment that is sold through the annual auction attracts bidders from several parts of the state. Alyeska's surplus equipment then generally stays in the state and is used by small businesses."

Wichorek added, "The relationship between Alyeska and 1stStrike has not only created a market for used goods in Alaska, but has enriched the state's economic health as well." 

As Alyeska celebrates 40 years of TAPS operations and its special business partnerships this year, 1stStrike's CFO Traci Leake and CEO Reuben Leake shared their thoughts on TAPS and working with Alyeska for nearly 10 years. 

Explain the relationship between 1stStrike Asset Management and Alyeska. 
"We have developed a successful relationship with Alyeska over the years by working closely with their Supply Chain Management and Investment Recovery teams. Through this teamwork, we are able to perform our surplus disposal and labor services while maximizing Alyeska’s return on investment."

In your company's perspective, what has been the impact of TAPS on Alaska and its communities?  
"The 40 years of TAPS operations and Alyeska's collaboration with 1stStrike has had a profound impact on our company and Interior Alaska. We are a facilitator between Alyeska and small businesses throughout Alaska. Our business thrives when other industries are doing well in the state. Our partnership creates an exchange of equipment and capital that ultimately stimulates Alaska’s economy." 

Do you have a favorite moment from the Alyeska Annual Surplus Auction?
"The 2016 Alyeska Auction had a large impact on one 1stStrike customer, as he was able to make his ailing father's wish to come true. The bidder's father wanted to go home to Fairbanks after being hospitalized in Anchorage, but they lacked the funding to fly him with all of his necessary medical equipment. They would also face the dilemma of transporting him and the medical equipment to the second floor of his house."

"At the auction, the son bid on and purchased a surplus lift that had previously been used to load airplanes on the North Slope. This lift would help his father spend his remaining days at home. A fellow bidder stepped in to help the bidder solve the other half of the endeavor – he offered to fly the bidder's father and medical equipment home to Fairbanks on one of his planes. The surplus lift was used to complete the undertaking and the Fairbanksan was able to spend the rest of his time comfortably at home."

TAPS at 40 in the news: "The Explorers 2017" includes TAPS Timeline, 40th stories and more

The 40th anniversary of TAPS operations is featured in a handful of feature stories and opinion columns in the new 2017 edition of Petroleum News' popular annual The Explorers special issue.

The issue features a walk through pipeline history in its "TAPS Timeline: Celebrating the 40 year anniversary of TAPS." The piece includes a step-by-step timeline, as well as quotes from the people who discovered oil, built up the North Slope and TAPS, and eventually started up the pipeline. Read TAPS Timeline starting on Page 40 of The Explorers.

In an op-ed titled "Long-term vision critical now," Alaska Senator Cathy Giessel celebrates 40 years of TAPS history, the pipeline's rough and tough origins, and its role in building modern Alaska. She also compares that early era to today, 40 years later, and writes about the importance of TAPS sustainability. She writes, "This reminiscence is important on the fortieth anniversary of the Prudhoe Bay field development, not because we should look upon the past with nostalgic complacency, but because history, without the ability to inform the future, is not helpful to us. We need to reflect on the lessons of the past and assess where Alaska has been. We need vision for the future to remain relevant in a globally competitive commodity market." Read Alaska Senator Cathy Giessel's column on Page 10 of The Explorers.

In a Q&A, Janet Weiss, BP Alaska President, discussed her company's nearly 60 years in Alaska and looked toward an exciting 40 years to come for BP, the North Slope and its operators, TAPS and Alaska. "With more companies operating on the North Slope, the cost structure changes for the better. This change means that more development opportunities become competitive sooner — which leads to more oil down TAPS." Read the Q&A with Janet Weiss starting on Page 26 of The Explorers.

And in "Christmas at Prudhoe Bay" (reprinted from 2011), writer Gil Mull shares a special story about the hard, but exciting, work during the North Slope's early discovery and development days. Read "Christmas at Prudhoe Bay" starting on Page 28 of The Explorers.

Alyeska Community Connection: Advocates for Victims of Violence, Inc.

For around 30 years, Advocates for Victims of Violence (AVV) and Alyeska have partnered to support a Valdez-area domestic violence shelter that services 18 neighboring communities. AVV, which was established in 1981, also provides a 24-hour crisis line, crisis intervention and more.

To celebrate 40 years of TAPS operations and Alyeska’s close community connections, AVV Executive Director Rowena Palomar recently talked about the Alyeska and AVV relationship and their legacy of helping Alaskans in need. 

Please talk about the longtime and special partnership between Alyeska and AVV. 
"Alyeska's support dates back to the 1990s – back when there was a typewriter at every desk at AVV. To update our system, Alyeska stepped in and facilitated the donation of new computers. Not only did we catch up on the latest technology, but it helped us reach victims of domestic violence in an effective way."

"In the late 1990s, an increasing amount of people that sought AVV's services prompted the need to move to a larger location. A large volunteer effort came from Alyeska employees and other volunteers to spearhead fundraiser events that paid for the property's mortgage. This assistance has resulted in a safe location to house victims of domestic violence and sexual assault over the past few decades."

Please talk about some of the projects that Alyeska and AVV collaborate on.
"Alyeska and AVV maintain a strong relationship through three main events that center on our mission of offering educational programs and effecting social, political and legal change. Women of Distinction is an event that recognizes women who have made a significant contribution to the Valdez community and the advancement of women in our society. The first recipient of the Women of Distinction award went to an Alyeska employee in 2008, the late Karen Stewart. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an international men's march to stop rape, sexual assault, and gender violence – AVV participates in that and Alyeska supports it through sponsorship. The Traveling Health Fair is a joint effort between Alyeska and AVV that promotes healthy lifestyles in rural Alaska."

In your organization's perspective, what has been the impact of TAPS on Alaska and its communities? 
"TAPS and Alyeska have made a lasting impact in communities through their support, contributions, and volunteers throughout the state. Alyeska staff efforts have resulted in organizations like AVV being able to reach out to community members with disabilities and elderly individuals, victims of violent crimes, children and youth that are going through difficult times. Alyeska continues to dedicate resources and time in to stop domestic violence and sexual assault in the communities they operate in."

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