Overview of TAPS
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.
OVERVIEW: The 800-mile-long Trans Alaska Pipeline System is one of the world's largest pipeline systems, an engineering icon that was the biggest privately funded construction project when constructed in the 1970s. Beginning in Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope, TAPS stretches through rugged and beautiful terrain to Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port in North America.
Since pipeline startup in 1977, Alyeska Pipeline - TAPS' operator - has successfully transported more than 16 billion barrels of oil and loaded more than 19,000 tankers at the Valdez Marine Terminal. More than half of the pipeline runs above ground – an engineering decision due to Alaska’s prevalent permafrost terrain. TAPS’ visibility as it crosses Alaska’s remarkable terrain has made it one of the world’s most photographed pipelines.
Today, about 800 people are employed by Alyeska, a transportation service company that operates on behalf of the four TAPS owner companies. Hundreds of contractors are also employed by TAPS at any given time, depending on seasonal work, maintenance load and other projects. At peak flow in 1988, 11 pump stations helped to move 2.1 million barrels of oil a day. Throughput in 2012 averaged less than 550,000 barrels a day, with four active pump stations remaining in the system.
TAPS owners & percentages*:
- BP Pipelines (Alaska), Inc. 48.441%
- ConocoPhillips Transportation Alaska, Inc. 29.2086%
- ExxonMobil Pipeline Company 20.9943%
- Unocal Pipeline Company 1.3561%
*Updated September 18, 2013