TAPS: Supporting Alaska

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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."

#TAPSGenerations: The Flodin/Redington family

Steve and Mabel Flodin
Commercial fishing crew of Amadeus
Members of SERVS Vessel of Opportunity 2002-2016
Parents of Ron and Dan Flodin and Julia (Flodin) Redington
Dan Flodin (back row, left)
Alyeska Supply Chain Management Director in Anchorage
17 years as Alyeska employee
Julia (Flodin) Redington (front row, left)
Alyeska Director of Project & Project Controls in Anchorage
Alyeska Projects team member for more than 15 years
Ron Flodin (back row, right)
Pump Station 4 Pipeline & Civil Maintenance Coordinator
8+ years as Alyeska employee
3 years in the SERVS Vessel of Opportunity program

When it comes to taking a system view of TAPS, the Flodin family has an interesting perspective. Like many Alaska families, they have fished and played together. Unlike many Alaska families, they all work together – supporting Alyeska and TAPS from Pump Station 1 to Valdez, in Fairbanks and Anchorage, and even out in Prince William Sound.

Steve and Mabel Flodin, the family's patriarch and matriarch, crew their 32-foot stern picker Amadeus, which was a SERVS Vessel of Opportunity boat from 2002-2016. Their three children – Dan, Julia and Ron – are all longtime Alyeska employees with unique roles.

Steve is a retired engineer who has worked around Alaska and even was part of the Exxon Valdez spill response. As a fisherman and member of the Vessel of Opportunity program, he has a deep appreciation for protecting Prince William Sound. His grownup children say they feel the same way about the sustainability and safety of TAPS.

What does working on TAPS mean to you?
"TAPS for my family, my children, it's their livelihood and it’s been the livelihood of this state for 40 years. I'm glad that they are involved in it and doing something that's productive for the company and the state."

Ron: "Working in an industry that Alaska depends on so much is a privilege. I am proud to be a part of a company that maintains the integrity of the pipeline."

Julia: "I am very proud to work for Alyeska and be part of the TAPS family. I am a lifelong Alaskan and TAPS is iconic and supports our state in so many ways. I look forward to being part of the team that continues to make TAPS sustainable into the future."

Dan: "I have depended on Alaska’s natural resources to provide for my family. Alaska has been an awesome adventure. Working for Alyeska has been an extension of that adventure. Experiencing TAPS physically standing tall and providing for the state of Alaska is rewarding. Alyeska and Alaska have much in common – a great place to live, work, make a difference and thrive."

What's your favorite moment working on TAPS?
"My favorite memory was responding to the 2002 Denali Earthquake and seeing how great the pipeline performed during this event."

Ron: "Three come to mind. The 2011 PS1 booster pump leak. … It was amazing to see what we did as a company. … In 2011, I was part of the Low Flow Program – I worked with many people in different areas and I got to work along all 800 miles of TAPS. And the PS1 Electrification and Automation and the suite of work; I spent five years on it. It gave me a lot of exposure to how TAPS is operated."

Dan: "The highlights have to be the people at Alyeska. At a recent Leadership Team meeting, of the 19 directors attending three were people I had initially hired, encouraged to apply at Alyeska or promoted at Alyeska. It's a tremendous feeling watching careers blossom from people you have encouraged and coached."

How special is it for you to be able to work at Alyeska with your family?
Julia: "I enjoy that my family can be proud of our work for TAPS success. Ron is in Operations & Maintenance, Dan is in Supply Chain and I am in Projects. It is great that we are all part of the TAPS family but also good to have separation in the areas by the teams we work in."

Ron: "Dan is a great recruiter – he encouraged Julia and I to join APSC. I like that we can work for the same company but also can be our individual selves in the three divisions that we work in. And that our dad is there in the background for oil spill response if it was ever needed. There is always something to talk about at family get-togethers."

Dan: "It is very special that I get to share this company with my family. Our family is Alaska grown. My Flodin generation all went to school K-12 in Alaska and graduated from UAF. … My dad has now experienced Alyeska through the Vessel of Opportunity program. He now sees what we see at Alyeska. It is a large part of the Alaska culture and well-being. We are all proud to work here and hope that future is there for the youngest Flodin generation as they prepare to launch their careers."

TAPS throwback: Final tie-in weld, May 31, 1977

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the final tie-in weld on the Trans Alaska Pipeline System! With TAPS workers and assorted VIPs looking on near Pump Station 3, the final weld of the 800-mile pipeline was one of the final touches needed before TAPS began operating and oil began flowing on June 20, 1977. While there were some loose ends to tie up, this moment was looked at as the completion of pipeline construction. Overall, there were 42,000 double-joint pipe welds and 66,000 field pipe welds on TAPS.

Pipeline partners: Ahtna, Inc.

The longstanding partnership between Alyeska and Ahtna Inc. began in July 1974, well before the start of TAPS operations. That important relationship, as well as a recap on the 40-year history of TAPS, is explored in a series of articles in recent Ahtna Kanas newsletters. Ahtna and Alyeska writers share perspectives on the close working relationship and partnership between the two organizations, the pipeline and the 55 miles of Ahtna land that TAPS operates on. 

In the spring 2017 edition of the Ahtna Kanas newsletter, Alyeska President Tom Barrett recognizes the impact that Ahtna descendants have had on TAPS. In the article, "Ahtna and Alyeska: A shared vision that led to opportunity and success," President Barrett discusses the retention rate of Athna workers along TAPS, including several families that have had three generations work on the pipeline. Barrett states that "(Ahtna) worked with Alyeska to ensure that special consideration would be given in contracting and Native hire opportunities."

In the same newsletter, Ahtna President Michelle Anderson emphasizes the legacy of 40 years of TAPS operations in her message. Anderson shares that, "the first section of pipe was laid on March 27, 1975 at the Tonsina River through the joint venture between Ahtna and Alyeska." The relationship has lasted through the entirety of the pipeline: from the planning stages, construction, and maintenance that is needed today. "The partnership gives both Ahtna and APSC reciprocal benefits and creates special opportunities," Anderson writes.

The winter 2016 Ahtna Kanas newsletter illustrates the close relationship Ahtna has with Alyeska's workforce development programs such as the Building Foundations for Excellence Program. An article, "Ahtna's partnership with Alyeska puts shareholders-owners to work," highlights the significance that both baseline training and education has on positions available throughout TAPS, furthering career initiatives of Ahtna shareholders for the future. Loren Bell, a Northern Oil Spill Coordinator and Ahtna shareholder-owner, discusses Alyeska culture: "The people I work with are outstanding. Alyeska's a great company to work for. If you do your job and come in with a good work ethic and accomplish goals with your team, they take care of you."

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