Successful shutdown completed at 1:25 a.m., August 12
Alyeska planned 18-hour shutdown was completed at 1:25 a.m., August 12. Work completed during the shutdown included gas building work at Pump Station 4, regulatory leak testing of 27 mainline gate valves and check valves between Pump Stations 7 and 9, and the installation of an additional suction valve to the suction header at Pump Station 9. Two tablespoons of crude oil spilled from a suction hose stinger at Pump Station 9. There were no injuries associated with the shutdown.
“These choreographed shutdowns have proven safe, efficient and effective,” said Mike Joynor, Senior Vice President of Operations. “Thanks to everyone who worked through the weekend to make sure TAPS continues to run safely.”
2013 Anchorage Alyeska Food Drive
With the generosity of our employees and contractors, this year’s Anchorage Alyeska Food Drive collected three shopping carts and two pallets of food for a total of 1,262 lbs. Our employees and contractors also donated – drum roll please -- $18,460 to the Food Bank of Alaska, shooting past last year’s Anchorage Food Drive record of $12,650!
Alyeska’s Food Drive is part of our annual United Way campaign. Each year, our employees and contractors donate their time and pledges to help United Way fulfill the unmet needs in our Alaska communities. Our full United Way campaign kicked into gear at the beginning of September.
Straight pipe installed at Pump Station 10
In a shutdown July 26, a team of Alyeska employees and contractors completed straight pipe work at Pump Station 10, effectively disconnecting the last inactive pump station on the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS).
With the installation of the Pump Station 10 straight pipe, all of the inactive pump stations – Pump Stations 2, 6, 8, 10, 11 and 12 – are now disconnected from the mainline pipe, and the dead-leg piping segments associated with these inactive stations are now disconnected from TAPS.
Disconnecting the dead-leg piping from inactive stations lowers the risk profile on the pipeline and considerably reduces the potential for a leak.
New digital TAPS Fact Book
Click here to download a collection of facts compiled over the duration – 36 years and counting – of the operation of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.
Alyeska's 2013 summer interns join the team
As part of Alyeska’s commitment to renewing its workforce, the company hosts an annual 16-week summer internship program for a number of college students studying in strategically focused disciplines. The selected interns are provided a unique and valuable opportunity to apply their education and experience to practical, on-the-job work experiences alongside Alyeska’s dedicated workforce. Twenty-three summer interns arrived in Anchorage on May 13 to participate in a two-day orientation, and were then deployed to a number of divisions across the company in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Valdez and the Pump Stations.
A few interns were asked to provide feedback regarding what they’ve learned so far about the TAPS culture and how they’ve identified with the company’s cultural attributes, what they like best about working for Alyeska, and what learning experiences they would like to take away from their internship experience with Alyeska.
Raymond Kangas / Integrity Management Intern
I realized with clarity that everyone working on the line unite with the same goal to keep this 36 year old pipeline running, which for a lot of us used to be our parents and older relatives’ duties. It has the feeling like the torch is always burning, and it’s pretty awesome to be a part of it.
So far this summer I like how my supervisors and mentors have been down to earth with me. I worked with them last year, so they are not keeping things slow for me at the start. I was given a number of tasks right when I came in for work.
Colleen Durnford-Galanes / Facility Engineering Intern
Thus far with my internship experience I have found that the people working on taps act as a cohesive group, working to meet the same goals. This is impressive to me given the diverse cultures and personalities making up the TAPS team."
Hands down it’s the people! A big part of my success is dependent on the company’s willingness to share and guide me with their knowledge and expertise.
Eric Francisco / Executive Intern
I identify strongly with Alyeska’s cultural attributes, particularly “Speak Up, Step Up.” Alyeska has a working environment where all employees, even interns, are expected to speak up and step up when it comes to safety, ideas, and innovations. I believe this is one of the cultural attributes that makes the APSC Internship Program so successful."
I expect to take away the learning experience of working in a high-speed environment that breeds innovation, growth, and excellence. From what I’ve seen so far, Alyeska employees don’t settle when it comes to their work. They strive to get it right the first time, and then do it even better the next time.
Allyson Payne / Information Technology Intern
I like working for Alyeska Pipeline because of the culture… All of the people at Alyeska make it known to you that they want you to succeed. I think it is important for a company to have that sense of camaraderie. Alyeska has a great reputation, and I am grateful to be part of the company.
During my internship experience, I hope to build relationships with the employees here, because they are great! The people at Alyeska are passionate workers who focus on the overall growth of the company. I want to learn from them, and hopefully, I can be a positive mentor someday.
Situational awareness on TAPS
Every AM at PS 9, the security force begins its day with a safety topic and shift briefing for both day and night shift officers. We always preach safety first and officer safety, not because we have to but because we want our team members to go home to their families at the end of their shift. The number one key to staying safe on the job is Situational Awareness. Below is an example of one of the topics from a past safety and shift briefing meeting that was held on 4/15/2013. We conduct these types of meetings/briefings, so we could be aware of hazardous conditions in the workplace and to discuss what could we do better to stay safe during hours of operation.
Key points to staying safety at work:
- Situational Awareness
- Officer safety
- Attention to detail
- Journey Management Checklist ( JMC)
- Equipment and gear checks
- Knowledge of task at hand
- Welfare checks on our officers during their shift time (11 + times per shift)
Alyeska's PWS traveling health & safety fair
This year's PWS traveling health & safety participants pictured to the right.
Kate Dugan, Valdez Communications Manager, recently returned from Alyeska's annual traveling health & safety fair with a story to tell:
I recently stood on the deck of the tug/barge Krystal Sea/Cordova Provider headed for the Prince William Sound community of Tatitlek. The sun was shining, the winds calm, and I was surrounded by an enthusiastic group of health and wellness care providers. As we motored out of Port Valdez, everyone was outside taking pictures and laughing; a good start to an important event.
For the last 13 years, Alyeska has sponsored and supported the Prince William Sound Traveling Health and Safety Fair. For eight days, the Krystal Sea/Cordova Provider brings vital health and wellness services to communities of Cordova, Whittier, Chenega Bay, Tatitlek and Valdez. Our theme this year was “Healing our whole selves,” and the trip focused on health and well-being in all aspects of life, from blood pressure to nutrition, exercise, boating safety, music and meditation.
There was a 6:15 a.m. provider meeting each morning to go over the day’s schedule and discuss any safety concerns. Then medical professionals set up screening equipment in the schools so that community members could drop by and track their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other important health information. This year, the group screened more than 100 community members – a great success!
We also brought along a mobile mammogram unit. The “Mammo Van” is supplied by long-time partner the Breast Cancer Detection Center of Fairbanks. For women in these small rural communities, getting their annual mammogram means an expensive trip to Anchorage. This year, we were able to save 17 women that cost.
Providers headed into classrooms in Tatitlek, Chenega and Whittier to talk to students about drugs and alcohol, suicide, nutrition and other issues that are identified by teachers beforehand. These are not easy subjects to discuss, and the volunteers had to be focused and prepared to confront difficult problems that bubble up in such small communities. I was so impressed with the grace, humor and compassion that the care providers wield in these classroom sessions.
Beyond the scheduled activities – there were easily more than 50 of them – there were the smaller, quieter moments in the villages that I will remember most: teaching the two preschoolers in Tatitlek why some chords sound “scary” and some “happy,” watching the newly-formed Whittier dance team perform Maroon 5’s Moves like Jagger, and holding multiple babies in Chenega so their moms could eat or craft with both hands. When the tug returned to Valdez, the weather had turned from spring back to winter, but the snow couldn’t dampen my mood. I was energized and proud that Alyeska sponsors such a special program, and that I have the privilege to tag along.
** A BIG thanks to our partners at Providence Medical Center, Bering Marine, Chugachmiut, Cordova Family Resource Center, Breast Cancer Detection Center, Advocates for Victims of Violence and the State of Alaska.
TAPS team tackles ILI tool run on Atigun Pass
With throughput at around 560,000 barrels per day, slack line typically stretches some 2 miles through the pipeline after it crests Atigun Pass at 4,739 feet and snakes downhill toward Pump Station 5. The Integrity Management team has been unable to collect useable data in slack lines on recent runs because of speed excursion. In addition, the slack line areas create potential for damaging the tool.
So the IM team posed this question: what would it take to eliminate slack line at Atigun Pass? Integrity Management, the Operations Control Center and Oil Movements worked together to conduct a Process Hazard Assessment and understand what was needed to make this happen.
Most employees don’t see the inline inspection tool up close, but suffice to say it’s big, weighing in at 10,600 pounds – about the weight of an African elephant or an adult killer whale. Sending the massive ILI tool in an essential free fall over Atigun would miss valuable data, and the tool could end up damaged by the rapid drop and heat resulting from the high speed.
Getting the tool safely over Atigun was also critical because any damage to the tool would impact the ability of the tool to record complete data for the rest of the run to Valdez.
The group managing the slack line issue reasoned that by stockpiling oil, they could create higher throughput conditions on the day the tool scaled Atigun, essentially eliminating slack line. While the concept sounds simple enough, finding the sweet spot and determining the exact flow rate needed to achieve this proved complex.
Certain “pinch points” upstream of Pump Station 5 needed to be protected from overpressure. Inventory issues also had to be tightly managed and monitored. Crude tanks at various pump stations would need to factor into the plan to manage flow and pressure. Inventory space would also be needed at the Terminal after the fact, when the higher-than-average throughput rolled in. Also, Joe Robertson and Tom Webb had to interface with regulators to ensure they understood Alyeska’s plan.
Deborah Hughes, an engineer at the Operations Control Center, ran hydraulic modeling to predict what pipeline flow pressures would be. Then Alyeska conducted two real-life tests prior to the ILI run, manipulating throughput on the line. Ultimately, the solution was to store up oil at Pump Stations 1 and 4, and also use Tank 150 at Pump Station 5 to syphon off some oil and, in turn, lower the pressure on the pinch points.
On March 28, the ILI tool came over Atigun. Everything worked as planned. Ben Wasson and Jeremy Gustafson, with the help of the ROW team and Houston Contracting, coordinated the intricate effort needed to track the ILI tool over the pass, said Bhaskar Neogi, Pipeline Integrity Management Manager.
What is slack line?
- Slack line occurs when the local pressure in the pipe decreases below the vapor pressure of the crude oil.
- This results in a two-phase flow – vapor in the top layer, and liquid crude oil in the bottom layer.
- How long a section of slack line is depends on four factors: elevation, pipeline throughput, downstream (pump station inlet) pressure and vapor pressure, which is a function of crude temperature.
Fast facts about Atigun Pass:
- Elevation: 4,739 feet
- The pass is where the Dalton Highway (also called the Haul Road) crosses the Continental Divide (mile marker 244)
- Atigun is the only Brooks Range pass that is crossed by a road
- Atigun has a reputation among bush pilots for being hard to cross; most go over Anaktuvuk Pass instead
- The pass is featured on the show “Ice Road Truckers”
Alyeska uses technology to tend to TAPS in winter
On a recent bluebird day in Valdez, Lucy Miller and Joel Hodgson grabbed their arctic gear, hopped into a Bombardier tracker rig and hit the road – a very snowy road. They rumbled up and down big hills, checking in at remote gate valve shacks along the way. Animal tracks dotted the trail, and a family of ptarmigan scuttled in front of the rig in search of a Sunday snack.
It’s a quiet mission, but an important one. Lucy and Joel are instrumentation technicians with the Valdez maintenance department and are part of a team that routinely drives the TAPS Right-Of-Way. These reconnaissance expeditions give technicians a chance to survey the pipeline on the ground. More importantly, the tank-like rig they use packs the snowy trail so that the pipeline and remote gate valves are accessible in case of an emergency.
"If it's really snowy, then it's fun," said Lucy. "You have to fight your way up every hill. When the trail's already in, it's mostly like going for a Sunday drive."
There are three tracker rigs on the Valdez Marine Terminal, and they are heavy-duty vehicles. Each weighs around four tons, but amazingly the track footprint is only 1.5 psi. They have a top speed of 16 miles per hour, and two hydrostatic tracks that can run in opposite directions – these rigs can actually turn on a dime. Two of the three are large and can negotiate the right of way with ease. The other is a little smaller, and is used for tank farm rounds when the snow is high on Terminal.
Sometimes Lucy and Joel – or their counterparts – take the tracker out to participate in oil spill reconnaissance drills, when they’re expected to drive along the right of way and find a black tarp representing a spill. Most of the time though, the reconnaissance missions are preparedness missions; the trail needs to be “in” so technicians like Lucy and Joel can get there quickly if they need to make repairs.
Along other parts of the pipeline, crews use tucker rigs for winter access of the right of way. While tuckers are more maneuverable, the Bombardiers have a small plow in front. This allows the rig to plow itself a snow bridge across small streams that are more common close to the Valdez Marine Terminal.
Alyeska lends a hand in quest to find collared bear
Alyeska Pipeline recently accepted an invitation from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to track down a possible grizzly bear den near pipeline milepost 7. It wasn’t a typical request, but Alyeska environment employees saw it as an opportunity to sustain regulatory relationships and to help resolve a lingering safety concern. On March 11, with the state bear biologists driving snow machines, the Alyeska employees from ROW/EPC and the Environment Team helped out by delivering two Karelian bear dogs via a tucker down the pipeline right-of-way to the launch-off point.
State officials first noted the possible bear den in November 2012 during an aerial survey, looking for wildlife that might be affected by ongoing or potential industry activities. The survey identified a bear den approximately 975 ft from the pipeline ROW at pipeline milepost 6.9 – detectable thanks to technology that shows differences in heat outputs. Meanwhile, officials were monitoring Sonny. Sonny was a spry 4-year-old oilfield bear when biologists first collared her in 1992. Now 25 years old, her radio collar signal went from an active to a slow pulse, indicating she hadn’t moved – that she might have died, was hibernating, or had shed her collar. Sonny was likely denning with her cub. State officials try to confirm FLIR and radio collar survey data. It’s accurate less than 50 percent of the time on grizzly bear dens because of the dirt cave that surrounds a bear. So scientists use Karelian bear dogs to sniff out the dens. Dick Shideler, a bear and large animal biologist with Fish and Game, brought his personal dog, Kavik, a 12-year-old who has successfully identified 37 of 38 dens during work for oil companies on the North Slope. Shideler has logged more than 35 years of experience with grizzly bears in Alaska. Trent Roussin, a contracted employee to the state, brought his 4-year old dog, Baloo, on her first-ever grizzly den survey. Baloo previously worked in Canada and Alaska to search for polar bear dens.
Alyeska employees saw the den-scouting mission as an opportunity to collaborate with Fish & Game, an agency that has showed ongoing support for Alyeska’s efforts to conserve and educate employees about wildlife management. From a safety perspective, Pump Station 1 and the right of way users in the area shared a strong interest in confirming the presence of an active bear den in a routinely trafficked area of the pipeline. The den, if found, would be the closest one ever positively identified adjacent to the right of way.
Kavik and Baloo, outfitted with GPS trackers, made a positive identification at the top of a pingo near pipeline milepost 6.84, 300 yards northwest from the radio-signal plotted location. By using years of experience, ingenuity, and the radio collar tracking device, the biologists were able to determine where to search after coming up somewhat lacking with only the FLIR and radio signal information. As the pings on the tracking device became stronger, they were able to bring the dogs to a downwind location near the pingo and within minutes, the dogs “alerted” with frantic pouncing, digging, and sniffing. After about 10 minutes, the dogs were called off the den – the point being to locate the den, not to disturb the bear. Officials placed a marker in the ground, collected local data, and returned to the pump station. After six hours -1° Fahrenheit ambient temperatures, with a -20° Fahrenheit wind chill, a cup of hot cocoa was on everyone’s minds. The dogs slept soundly in the tucker as Ric Adams, PS01 Baseline Laborer, and Cathy Girard, Environmental Coordinator, took the 1.5 hour roller coaster ride over 7 miles of snow drifts back to Pump Station 1.