Innovation, Winter Operating Temperature Team
You can gather a lot of data, procedures, information and institutional knowledge from 40 years of pipeline operations. You can also collect even more way-we’ve-always-done-its, way-we-should-be-doing-its, bright ideas, not-so-bright ideas and varied opinions, informed or otherwise.
Last year, a diverse and talented group of TAPS experts was told to forget everything it knew about operations – albeit briefly. Then the group huddled to examine a question older than the pipeline: What is the minimum safe winter flow temperature on TAPS?
For the past 10-plus years, that answer was 40 degrees. This group was charged to re-examine that conclusion and then either confirm 40 degrees was the right answer or present and prove a new optimal temperature. Over four months, they dug into data, scoured science, delved into Alaska’s harshest temperatures and working conditions, and even fought their own operational beliefs and departmental principles. The team landed on an answer that addressed safety and risk, protected resources (personnel, financial and equipment), changed how Alyeska views winter flow temperatures and cold-weather operations, and ultimately reimagined the way Alyeska tackles big-picture problems and questions.
For their vision, determination and collaboration, a group of 11 current and former Alyeska employees are recognized with the 2017 Atigun Award for Innovation. The recipients are Rob Annett, Jim Hoppenworth, Andrea Metcalf, Dave Roberts, Klint VanWingerden, Lindsey Vorachek, Joe Howell, Mike Malvick, Tom Marchesani, Gregg Knutsen and Cliff Dolchok.
"This team overcame perceptions, the norms, if you will, and opinions from years of conservatism that we had built up as a company," VanWingerden said.
"We tore it all down, reconstructed it and stacked hands at the end because we were all in it together," added Annett, Appraise Engineering Manager. "While it was really hard work, the easy thing to do would have been to leave everything the same and risk not knowing how safe or unsafe we really are."
The answer: 37 degrees. The team with representatives from Operations, Oil Movements, Engineering, Risk and Flow Assurance processed 40 years of TAPS throughput and operations interruptions data; looked at historic weather lows and conditions along the TAPS route; and then tested the information with intense modeling and funneled it through rigorous risk analysis.
"We had some of the same worries and some very different worries – there was definitely some technical tension – but we were also well-informed and everyone was given time to digest it all and provide their perspective," Annett said. "All of that modeling of scenarios drove us to a new number. And it was better than staying at a very conservative, one-dimensional number."
They found that 40 degrees sat in a range that Annett calls "no man's land." Basically, this means that there was very little risk difference from operating at 40 degrees and operating anywhere between 32 and 48 degrees.
"We trust in the company's risk matrix and being able to look at details and data objectively," VanWingerden said. "And we saw that we weren't getting the value that we thought we were at the 40 degree target. Essentially, we were spending money without getting a corresponding benefit targeting this temperature."
Of course, 37 degrees is also in no man's land. But, Annett said, "TAPS is a beast: you can't turn a dial like a thermostat in your home and have TAPS temperatures suddenly increase."
So the team made a risk-informed decision; 37 degrees provided a buffer of five degrees above the risk tipping point (32 degrees) and allowed adequate time to add heat to TAPS, if needed.
In December, Alyeska's OCC officially changed its cold weather operations procedure. Over the rest of the winter, there were times that the flow temperature dipped below 40 but stayed above 37. In the past, Alyeska would have activated various heat sources along TAPS to keep the temperature at 40. But in this winter's occasions, operations continued unchanged.
What difference does those three degrees make?
"By lowering the target operating temperature, we were saving dollars that can be applied to more effective mitigations that directly impact our operating risk," VanWingerden said.
Annett added, "And it saves money in fuel and operating costs, as well as wear and tear on equipment, while lowering risk to the people attending to the equipment because it's not running."
The work to determine this three-degree difference also shifted Alyeska 180-degrees on how it will analyze and answer big questions moving into the next 40 years of TAPS operations.
"The effort highlights a culture change that is happening within the company,” explained VanWingerden. "I have seen a shift that we're becoming more flexible and nimble with change and adopting that change."
Annett added: "This was super-rewarding. We were able to go to leadership and Owners with data and confidence about a decision that provided a financial efficiency and broadened the understanding of TAPS. This is how you land at risk-informed, data-informed decisions. I really got a kick out of the collaboration."
Pipeline partners: GLM Energy Services
Few employees understand the line-wide scope of TAPS' massive infrastructure – and all of the large and small parts in between – as well as Jerry DeHaas, Senior Discipline Engineer Advisor.
And when DeHaas needs help with a tiny piece of the puzzle or support for a full-on project, he often looks to a trusted service provider far from the TAPS route: GLM Energy Services in Kenai.
"They provide the complete gamut of rotating equipment services related to our repair work," DeHaas said. "And they're really good at what they do."
For their high-quality work and close-knit partnership with Alyeska and many TAPS contractors, GLM Energy Services was recently named the 2017 Atigun Award Contractor-Partner of the Year. This was the first year the award was given.
For more than 30 years, GLM has offered service and repair support to industrial companies, and specifically oil and gas companies. Their clients stretch across Alaska, the Continental U.S. and around the world. Today, GLM employs 40 staff who mostly operate out of two world-class facilities covering 35,000 square feet.
They sell complete products and parts and perform disassembles, inspections, rebuilds, overhauls, reverse engineering and special machining and special repairs, among many other services.
"Whatever we need, whenever we need it, they just continue to come through for us," explained Pam Chenier, Alyeska's Purchasing Supervisor.
"It's a big honor for GLM to receive the first-ever Atigun Award to recognize a contractor partnership," said Tony Brough, GLM's Director of Business Development.
"It just reinforces our commitment to our customers and the timely delivery of high quality services at reasonable prices," Brough added. "And it shows the importance of our relationship with Alyeska."
GLM is a serious statewide success story while something of an Alaska anomaly. Its staff provides a combination of services, machinery, parts, craftsmanship and urgent response that no single Alaska-based company does.
From Pump Station 1 to Valdez, when a repair or replacement is required on TAPS, it often needs to happen urgently, if not ASAP. Alyeska staff says that’s where GLM shines.
Without GLM, some of the unique and major machinery like gas turbines, safety and control valves, engines and other accessories would have to be sent overseas for repair or replacement. And then there are the seemingly countless, assorted and heavily-used generators, motors, pumps and compressors used on TAPS that require regular maintenance and occasional repairs.
"Whether it's a pump or gearbox from the '70s, a diesel generator from the '80s or state-of-the-art power generating equipment, they have the technical expertise, drive and facility to repair the item and help us keep the oil flowing," Chenier said.
Brough added, "The key to GLM’s success is offering in-state support. Alaska's oil and gas customers were isolated in terms of support. GLM saw that opportunity and we’ve remained highly focused on our Alaska-based companies. … With Alyeska, we even team up to co-develop replacement parts that help reduce repair risk and net cost. This really is a unique partnership.”
Alyeska, staff honored for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service partnership
Alyeska and four employees were recognized recently at the 2016 Regional Director's Excellence Awards by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Alaska Region. Alyeska and employees Stacia Miller, Ken Wilson, Earl Rose and William Roach received the Outstanding Partner Award for their strong collaboration with USFWS and Alyeska's Oil Spill Response Program for wildlife.
USFWS is the federal agency mandated to enforce the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and other widely encompassing regulations. The awards are unique because recipients are chosen by peers. Dr. Lori Verbrugge, the Regional Environmental Contaminants Coordinator at USFWS, was moved by the strong working relationship and collaboration between departments at Alyeska and their willingness to share knowledge with other agencies.
"Along with the work that the Alyeska team does within their own organization, they are true partners working together on response plans," Verbrugge said. "It's not just checking boxes and following federal regulation for these four individuals. They have a true passion for Alaska’s environment and future."
Verbrugge added that she "was inspired after I saw the modular Sea Otter Hospital being set up during a drill in Valdez. When they first told me about it being built out of Conexes, I had my concerns of the quality and maintenance of the structure, but it was in perfect condition."
Each recipient of the Outstanding Partner Award used their individual talents to accomplish the high level of preparedness that the USFWS recognized. Their activities include the maintenance of equipment, contractual relationships with experienced wildlife responders, and training field responders and offering field exercises from their wildlife plans.
Recent examples include:
• Wildlife & Non-mechanical Response Coordinator Miller updated and refreshed each of the 16 Conexes that comprise the Sea Otter Hospital. She and Wilson, Natural Resources SME, work closely with USFWS annually to modify wildlife response forms by applying lessons learned from the field to each revision.
• Wilson has also been a resource to Fish & Wildlife during response drills, as he has had multiple years of experience and served as a mentor to agency and industry representatives.
• Oil Spill Coordinator Rose shared his expertise at fast river spill response by contributing his time to teach a module at the Department of Interior’s Inland Oils Spill Response course in Anchorage.
• IMT and Exercise Coordinator Roach has used his expertise and experience in designing exercises to develop wildlife taskforce deployments and incorporate them into Alyeska's drill and exercise program, while also facilitating agency involvement at each stage of the design and evaluation.
After the award ceremony, Wilson said it truly takes a team effort to accomplish environmental stewardship in Alaska.
"There is something in our current culture that has allowed people to feel empowered to 'do the right thing,'" he said. "It is really great when outside entities, not to mention a federal regulatory/enforcement agency, recognize something that's right about our culture. Forming partnerships is a win for us and for other organizations. No single entity has all the resources and knowledge to attain a high level of preparedness and environmental stewardship. It takes public and private organizations working together to create the right solutions for Alaska."
In accepting the award, Wilson acknowledged the partnership and the professionalism of the USFWS employees that have contributed to Alyeska’s success.
"The recognition of the collaborative relationship between organizations brings into focus the efforts of both parties to get to where we are," he said.
Alyeska Senior Environmental Manager Jan Shifflett added: "This is a significant achievement by SERVS Operations, VMT, OSCP managers Lorena Hegdal and Martin Parsons, several Environment folks, and others. This is an award that is generated from within USFWS, not by an external nomination process. It shows the level of expertise and proactivity in Alyeska among these teams and the collaboration, trust, and mutual respect between Alyeska and this important regulatory agency."
New group of summer interns joins Alyeska team
Fifteen interns with Alaska roots have joined Alyeska to develop work experience and sharpen professional skills in the 2017 Summer Internship Program.
Interns will spend the summer working in Anchorage, Fairbanks, at the Valdez Terminal and pump stations along TAPS. As they approach the end of summer, each student will showcase the development of their projects during a set of final presentations.
"Summer 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," said Lisa Booth, Alyeska's Alaska Native Program Director. "The internship program also infuses new talent across the organization, from Pump Station 1 to the VMT. Students gain meaningful work experiences that introduce interns to what a career on TAPS would be like."
Four returning participants will continue applying what they learned last year to new projects, furthering their experience and knowledge of TAPS. Two siblings, Jonathan and Patrick Lovell, have also been accepted into this year"s internship program.
This summer's interns are:
• Brandon Bachman of Anchorage, a computer systems engineering student at UAA who will work in the IT Department in Anchorage
• Sydney Belz of Anchorage, a mechanical engineering student at UAF who will work in the Engineering Standards & Programs Department in Anchorage
• Lauren Cole of Anchorage, a business analytics/computer science student at the University of Vermont who will work in the IT Department in Anchorage
• Dustin Cook of Palmer, a mechanical engineering student at UAA who will work in O&M Engineering in Valdez
• Bradley Cruickshanks of Eagle River, an MS civil engineering student at UAA who will work in O&M Engineering in Valdez
• Kristofer Don of Palmer, a process technology/instrumentation student at UAF who will work in Pipeline Operations at PS1
• Christopher Feero of Anchorage, a process technology student at UAA who will be work in Pipeline Operations at PS9
• Tyler Henricksen of Anchorage, a mechanical engineering student at UAA who will work in Engineering Standards & Programs in Anchorage
• Cory LePore Jr. of Bethel, an economics student at UAF who will work in Supply Chain Management in Anchorage
• Jonathon Lovell of Fairbanks, a mechanical engineering student at UAF who will work in the Civil Integrity Department in Fairbanks
• Patrick Jace Lovell of Anchorage, an MS project management student at UAA who will work in Projects in Anchorage
• Rachel MacDonald of Valdez, a process technology student at Kenai Peninsula College who will work in VMT Ballast Water Treatment
• Tara McGrogan of Fairbanks, a recent MBA graduate from UAF will work in Corporate Communications in Anchorage
• Martin D. Parsons of Valdez, a recent instrumentation/process technology graduate from UAF who will work in VMT Power Vapor
• Cole Phillips of Valdez, an instrumentation technology student at Idaho State University who will work in I&E in Valdez
Alyeska's summer internship period runs through the end of September. Recruitment for 2018 internships begins September 18, 2017. For more information about Alyeska internship opportunities, please contact Lisa Booth at (907) 787-8640 or visit www.alyeska-pipe.com/Employment/InternshipsDevelopmentOpportunities.
2016 Sustainability: Fueling the 40th year of TAPS operations
This message from Alyeska President Tom Barrett opens the new 2016 Alyeska Sustainability report.
Lisa Booth named Alaska Native Program Director
Lisa Booth is the new Alaska Native Program Director for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.
Lisa is an 18-year APSC employee and Alaska Native who first joined Alyeska through the internship program. Lisa said she is especially proud to take over the Alaska Native Program because it played a personally meaningful role in her career, and the careers of many other Alaska Native company employees.
"This role is about more than running a program; it's about giving back and supporting opportunities and development for others, and I'm passionate about the value in that," Lisa said. "I have seen firsthand how our Alaska Native Program builds on relationships and cultural foundations to achieve amazing business results, while growing and supporting really talented employees who care deeply about Alaska's future."
Lisa's Alaska Native roots run deep: she grew up in Metlakatla, and is Tsimshian, Yupik and Alutiiq. Her parents and maternal family still live in Metlakatla, while her father is originally from Bethel and her maternal grandfather is from Ninilchik.
Lisa joined Alyeska in December 1999 as an intern through the Building Foundations for Excellence Program, working as a contract administrator. Since then, she has held positions of increasing responsibility in Business Planning, IT, HR, and Supply Chain Management and most recently as Business and Strategic Planning Director. Lisa has also served on the Alaska Native Program’s Advisory Board for several years.
"I'm excited to lead a high-functioning program with a proven track record of hiring, training, developing and retaining Alaska Native people," she said. "One of my goals is to fully integrate the various components of the program to ensure we are meeting and exceeding the requirements of the Alaska Native Utilization Agreement and working effectively with partners such as ANSEP, Alaska Native Corporations and TAPS contractors."
Alyeska's Alaska Native Program was created in October 1995. Through the program, Alyeska supports recruitment, employment, mentoring, education and training opportunities for Alaska Native People. The program helps fulfill commitments embodied in the TAPS Federal Agreement and Grant of Right-of-Way.
"Lisa brings a rich and unique background to this role," said Tom Barrett, Alyeska President. "She has demonstrated excellent leadership at Alyeska, she is passionate about the value and culture the Alaska Native Program brings to our company and community, and I look forward to working with her as we continue to build on the program's strong legacy."
Lisa has a Bachelor's of Science in Business Administration degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Master's of Business Administration in Management from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Hillary Schaefer named TAPS Sr. Director - Pipeline O&M
Hillary Schaefer has been selected as Alyeska's new Senior Director for Pipeline Operations & Maintenance.
Hillary began work with TAPS in 1999. Most of those years were spent in roles in the field and at pump stations; work in recent years deepened Hillary's knowledge of the inner workings of pipeline operations and Alyeska's core business functions.
"Hillary has built a reputation as a leader who collaborates across workgroups, utilizing unique strengths to achieve the best possible outcome," said Rod Hanson, VP Operations & Maintenance. "She actively participates in creating a system view by drawing on her diverse experience on TAPS, using every opportunity to leverage resources and share knowledge. She has demonstrated exemplary leadership and decision-making acumen during crises, shutdown projects and everyday operation of TAPS."
Hillary joined Alyeska as an Environmental Coordinator. Since then, she has held positions of increasing responsibility and visibility, including Pipeline & Civil Maintenance Coordinator, Response Base Supervisor, Pump Station O&M Supervisor, and Pipeline Area Manager accountable for safe operations, effective maintenance, and emergency preparedness.
"The Pipeline Operations and Maintenance team has reached remarkable milestones, and I attribute that to both O&M leadership and line-wide teamwork," Hillary said. "I am thrilled about this opportunity to lead pipeline operations as we turn the corner on 40 years of moving oil safely and reliably for Alaska."
Prior to Alyeska, Hillary spent five years working for environmental consulting firms in the Fairbanks area. She holds a Bachelor's of Science in Environmental Health from Colorado State University and has successfully completed numerous additional leadership training opportunities while at Alyeska. Hillary also has extensive experience in Incident Command System (ICS) processes, having served as On-scene Commander, Ops Section Chief, Deputy Incident Commander and Incident Commander on numerous actual responses and drills.
She will assume full responsibilities of this role on April 26, coinciding with John Baldridge's retirement and last day in the position.
"Please join me in congratulating Hillary on her new role and provide her with your full support as she assumes the responsibilities," Rod said. "Please also join me in once again congratulating John Baldridge on his 40 years of TAPS service and an outstanding record of strong leadership as he moves into a well-deserved retirement."
Going the extra mile: Atigun Award recipients announced
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company has selected 2017 Atigun Award recipients, honoring employees, contractors and teams who truly “go the extra mile (801).” Alyeska President Tom Barrett also named a TAPS Professional of the Year, the TAPS Engineer of the Year, a Contractor-Partner of the Year, and a Lifetime Achievement award recipient.
"It is always exciting to recognize the outstanding contributions of Atigun Award recipients and nominees," Barrett said. "As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of TAPS operations, we know it will be the inspired and innovative efforts of people like this year’s recipients and nominees that sustain TAPS into the future. Please join me in congratulating them."
The 2017 Atigun Awards are for 2016 performance and recognize excellence in the company values of environment, health and safety, innovation, integrity and teamwork. The recipients and honorable mentions are:
Environment: Recognizing achievements in environmental protection, habitat enhancement, regulatory compliance or pollution prevention.
• MP 18 mainline investigation team. Cross-functional teams installed sheet piles and dewatering wells to creatively and safely manage discharge of more than 127 million gallons of water for a particularly challenging and successful MP 18 mainline investigation. (Atigun Award)
• Right of Way Baseline team. This large, always very busy team demonstrated exemplary spill prevention work and exceptional environmental stewardship. (Honorable Mention)
Health and Safety: Recognizing achievements in health and safety of people and property, including process and operational safety.
• Pump Station 1 gas leak repair team. TAPS workers utilized a highly creative solution to quickly mitigate a below ground natural gas leak at PS1 in the middle of winter. Their actions aligned with sound design and safe-work controls, even though time was very limited. (Atigun Award)
• Tanker mooring line handling improvements. A cross-functional group developed an operational enhancement that eliminated line boat hazards and improved safety and cost efficiency. (Honorable Mention)
Innovation: Leveraging knowledge and creativity to continuously improve operations and efficiency.
• Winter operating temperature team. Based on extensive risk analysis and improved understanding of TAPS system heating requirements, the team enabled reduction of winter flow temperature from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 37, safely managing risks while reducing costs. (Atigun Award)
• Temporal and spatial 3D modeling of TAPS aboveground pipe. This new modeling approach applied cutting-edge technologies to identify cost-effective solutions to soil movement issues that TAPS faces. (Honorable Mention)
Integrity: Demonstrating commitment to the highest ethical standards. Recognizing achievements in meeting commitments to protect the operating integrity of TAPS and the integrity of APSC business practices.
• Rachel Baker-Sears, Project Compliance and Admin Lead. Recognized for leadership in creating proactive and innovative processes that reduce risk, ensuring compliance and keeping her group and their work efficient. (Atigun Award)
Teamwork: Applying shared responsibility for Alyeska’s mission and resources entrusted to us.
• Pump Station 1 flare tip replacement project (G014). A diverse group of TAPS workers safely and very efficiently replaced this critical safety system under challenging conditions and a tight timeline. (Atigun Award)
• Electrical power maintenance and testing team (POWER Team). This group drove multiple improvements to ensure that TAPS power systems are safer, more reliable and more efficient than ever. (Honorable Mention)
The 2017 President’s Awards recipients are:
• TAPS Professional of the Year: Geneva Walters, Development Manager
• TAPS Engineer of the Year: Alan Beckett, Mechanical Integrity Manager
• Lifetime Achievement Award: Don Duke, Measurement Technician
• Contractor-Partner of the Year: GLM Corporation
Alyeska one of World’s Most Ethical Companies for sixth year
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is one of the World's Most Ethical (WME) Companies® for the sixth year in a row. The Ethisphere® Institute announced its selection on Monday, March 13, and honored recipients at the 2017 WME Honoree dinner on Tuesday, March 14, in New York.
"This year marks 40 years of operations on the Trans Alaska Pipeline System. As we celebrate our history, we appreciate how far we've come," said Tom Barrett, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company President. "Earning this honor for the sixth consecutive year is a tribute to the people who operate TAPS and provide a foundation of operational and professional integrity and ethics that is part of our everyday culture. This ethical base makes us proud and resilient in the face of challenges and fortifies us for the future."
For 11 years, Ethisphere has honored companies that recognize their role in society to influence and drive positive change, consider the impact of their actions on their employees, investors, customers and other key stakeholders and use their values and culture as an underpinning to the decisions they make every day. Companies are evaluated in five key categories: ethics and compliance program, corporate citizenship and responsibility, culture of ethics, governance, and leadership, innovation and reputation.
"Over the last eleven years we have seen the shift in societal expectations, constant redefinition of laws and regulations and the geo-political climate. We have also seen how companies honored as the World's Most Ethical respond to these challenges. They invest in their local communities around the world, embrace strategies of diversity and inclusion, and focus on long term-ism as a sustainable business advantage," explained Timothy Erblich, Ethisphere's Chief Executive Officer. "Congratulations to everyone at Alyeska Pipeline Service Company for being recognized as a World's Most Ethical Company."
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 honors superior achievement through its World’s Most Ethical Companies recognition program. The full list of the 2017 World's Most Ethical Companies can be found at http://worldsmostethicalcompanies.ethisphere.com/honorees/.
Heat pipes super-chill the ground, winter only
Forward looking infrared (FLIR) technology captures infrared radiation emitted from a heat source. A forward FLIR camera captured this image north of Fairbanks where the ambient temperature is -50 F today.
"We use the FLIR T640bx camera to monitor the radiator section of the heat pipes," said Larry Mosley, Aboveground Engineer. "This particular infrared camera is rated to operate at extremely cold temperatures and the thermal sensor can detect less than one degree of temperature change."
There are 78,000 vertical support members (VSM) along TAPS – most of them south of Atigun Pass have heat pipes to help maintain the permafrost around the VSMs. The heat pipes act to reduce soil temperature when the temperature of the air drops below that of the ground.
The heat pipe is a natural convection, two-phase heat transfer loop, which transfers heat by vaporization and condensation within the closed system. It consists of a sealed tube, charged with a working fluid, which functions as a two-phase (gas-liquid) system at operating temperatures.
Heat from the soil enters the lower end of the tube, causing the fluid to boil. The vapor travels to the upper, radiator end of the tube in the air, where it condenses on the cooler surface, releasing energy. The condensate then returns to the lower end of the tube as a film along the tube wall.
Alyeska's Civil Integrity Team monitors air and ground temperatures at 52 locations between Pipeline Milepost 85 and 725. As reported by the Alaska National Weather Service, the past three winters have been relatively mild.
"These extreme temperatures present significant challenges to maintaining our homes and vehicles," said Phil Hoffman, Senior Engineer Advisor. "But on TAPS we are ecstatic when these cold temperatures set in, giving the heat pipes a chance to chill the soil."