40 Alaska Business Monthly | August 2017 www.akbizmag.com
The Trans Alaska Pipeline System near Dearhorse: the 800-mile pipeline travels from here to Valdez.
© Alyeska Pipeline Service Company
TAPS After Forty Years
OIL & GAS
Increased output key to
recovery, says Governor
By Garrison Wells
There are few, if any, in Alaska who can say they haven’t been affected by the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS)—
in one way or another.
To be sure, there’s the massive economic
impact of an 800-mile, 48-inch diameter
pipeline that transports crude from North
America’s largest oilfield, Prudhoe Bay. At its
peak, the pipeline pumped more than 2 million barrels of oil a day over Alaska’s tough
terrain: frozen ground, mountain ranges,
rivers, and earthquake faults. And though
throughput has dwindled to roughly a quarter of that heyday delivery in the late 1980s,
the pipeline remains the state’s economic
heart, forty years on.
“The past four decades did a lot more than
just build the fields,” says Janet Weiss, president of BP Alaska. “Four decades of oil and
gas development in Alaska have changed
Alaskan lives and provided opportunities for
people across the state. Prudhoe Bay will continue as an important foundation for Alaska’s
oil and gas industry well into the future.”
Employment for Tens of Thousands
The pipeline’s first impact was the creation of
jobs. From 1969 through 1977 alone, 70,000
individuals worked on the huge construction project, from engineers and carpenters
to construction workers. Among those who
toiled on the pipeline are a virtual who’s-who
of Alaska’s upper crust.
Governor Bill Walker worked on the pipeline
as a youth and during college and even met his
wife, Donna, while working there. Dave Norton,
owner at Hawk Consultants, worked as a field
engineer during the pipeline’s construction.
Charlie Riddle, senior vice president at R&M
Consultants, also was among the thousands of
Alaska residents who worked on the pipeline.
Dave Norton, Principal/Owner at Hawk
Consultants and former field engineer during
construction of the TAPS pipeline.