For some, it has been a family affair.
Julie Redington, director of projects for
Alyeska Pipeline Service, which is made up
of the major oil companies that own and operate the pipeline, is one of four family members who work on the pipeline.
There are her brothers, Dan and Ron Flo-
din, and her father, Steve, who was a contrac-
tor for the SERVS Vessels of Opportunity
Program. Dan is supply chain management
director and Ron is the system’s pipeline and
civil maintenance coordinator and works
mostly in the field. “Alyeska,” Redington
says, “is a great company to work for and the
pipeline is really significant and iconic in the
state. It’s a meaningful job, great for jobs for
the family, and it helps the state.”
Redington aptly sums up how those who
worked for the pipeline feel about it even to-
day. There are pipeline memories floating all
over Alaska. “I’ve been here going on sixteen
years and have spoken to a lot of people who
worked here and have gone on or retired,” she
says. “There’s really a sense of loyalty. There’s
almost like an ownership to contributing to
the success of the performance of the pipe-
Alyeska President Tom Barrett in a com-
pany report shares Redington’s feelings. “We
feel TAPS pride,” he says. “TAPS people are
special. We know our work, what we do, and
how well we do it matters all across Alaska.”
The pipeline’s economic run continues, as
it enters the territory of the middle-aged with
its 40th birthday, and there’s plenty of prom-
ise for the next forty years.
“TAPS,” Weiss says, “laid the foundation
Where It All Began
for further oil and gas development on the
“Another promising part about the future
of Alaska’s North Slope is the list of com-
panies operating successfully and the list of
companies exploring: Caelus, Hilcorp, Eni,
Repsol, and Armstrong. The interest of these
companies demonstrates that Alaska is open
for business,” she says. “It’s important for the
future that we keep Alaska open for busi-
Everything started with Alaska’s life blood:
oil. With the discovery of Prudhoe Bay’s
massive oilfield—North America’s largest—
in 1967, the stage was set for Alaska to undergo major change.
The 213,543-acre oilfield triggered actions
by multinational oil companies, Alaska, and
Congress that resulted in the construction
of the 800-mile pipeline to funnel crude oil
from the North Slope to Valdez, the state’s
northernmost ice-free port.
The field is about 650 miles north of Anchorage—between the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska. The land is owned by the state
and operated by BP. Other major players in
the oilfield include ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.
The motto of the first employees charged
with taking on the world’s largest privately-funded construction project was simply:
“They didn’t know it couldn’t be done,” according to Alyeska.
Nonetheless, obstacles were everywhere.
Among them were fault lines, rivers, and
steep mountain ranges that had to be crossed,
and Alaska’s frozen permafrost meant that
much of the pipeline had to be built aboveground. To get the job done, construction
camps were built along the pipeline’s path for
workers. The biggest obstacle at the front end,
says Riddle, was land ownership and right-of-way status. The company he works for,
R&M, was formed because of the pipeline
and has provided many services throughout the years. Permits to build the pipeline,
Riddle says, could not be granted until Native land claims were settled.
That issue was resolved in 1971 with the
passage of ANCSA (Alaska Native Claims
Settlement Act). The legislation, he says,
didn’t just pave the way for construction. “It
provided land and money to the various Native corporations that were established under
ANCSA,” Riddle says.
Land ownership rights were settled in 1973
when the US Senate approved construction
of the pipeline in a tight vote, he says. “The
initial vote was a 49-49 tie with Vice President Spiro Agnew casting the tie-breaking
vote to approve the Trans-Alaska Pipeline
Authorization Act,” Riddle says.
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company leadership doing a walkdown of shutdown work at Pump Station 1 in late 2016. From left: John Baldridge, Senior
Director Pipeline Operations; Rod Hanson, VP Pipeline Operations; Don Neff, Construction Manager; Mike Hale, Prudhoe Bay Area Manager; and Dave
Welsh, ExxonMobil Owner Representative.