Overview of TAPS
Cleaning pigs sweep the pipe of built up wax, water or other solids that precipitate out of the oil stream. They also prevent the built-up of corrosive environment and makes the oil easier to pump.
OVERVIEW: The 800-mile-long Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) 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 17 billion barrels of oil and loaded nearly 22,000 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.
At peak flow in 1988, 11 pump stations helped to move 2.1 million barrels of oil a day. Throughput in 2016 averaged 517,868 barrels a day, with four active pump stations remaining in the system. The 2016 average marked the first increase in TAPS throughput since 2002 -- 2015 daily throughput average was 508,446. Throughput increased again in 2017, averaging 527,323 barrels a day, before dropping in 2018 to 509,315 barrels a day.
After celebrating 40 years of operations in 2017, TAPS remains a living testament to the powerful Alaska spirit that has written our state's history and is fueling Alaska's future. Today, about 800 people are employed by Alyeska, a transportation service company that operates on behalf of the four TAPS owner companies, and hundreds of contractors work along TAPS at any given time. More than 96 percent of Alyeska's workforce lives in Alaska; about 20 percent of that workforce is Alaska Native; and 70 percent of TAPS contractor companies are based in Alaska.
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 January 2019