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TAPS General Information

The 800 mile Trans Alaska Pipeline brings crude oil from the North Slopes of Alaska to the ice free port of Valdez.

Pipeline Map

Aurora Over Pipeline

Construction on the ambitious Pipeline project started in 1974. Three years and $8 billion later, North Slope crude oil started flowing through TAPS in June 1977. At its peak, the Trans Alaska Pipeline System carried over 2 million barrels of crude oil per day. Nowadays, with declining oil production, the flow has decreased to approximately 600,000 barrels per day.

  Operated by:
  Trans Alaska Pipeline
  Alyeska Pipeline Service Company
  800 miles
  48 inches
  Peak Flow:
  Current Flow:
  2.1 million barrels per day (1988)
  Approx. 600K barrels per day (2012)
  Pump Stations:
  11 Pump Stations (6 active)

Alyeska Pipeline in the Dark of Night

As the sun slowly sets down in the vast Alaskan landscape, the sky turns a bright shade of pink before the night reveals the stars. Photos of the Trans Alaska Pipeline at sunset...

Pipeline Sunset
Star Trail with Aurora

In the middle of the winter, the nights are bitter cold. However, for those who are not afraid to brave the elements, they might witness a spectacular light show...

Photos of the Trans Alaska Pipeline with Aurora in the middle of the winter.

Changing of the Seasons

Lush Summer

Golden Fall

Cold Winter

TAPS is immune to the changing of the seasons. Being a major contributor to the US crude oil production, the Trans Alaska Pipeline System operates 24 hours a day, all year long. Only major maintenance during the Turn Around periods (TAR) will affect production.

Atigun Pass

Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, the show must go on to supply the US energy needs.

Far Left: Atigun Pass mid Summer.

Declining Oil Production

Crude oil production from the Alaska North Slopes has been steadily declining at an annual rate of 4 to 5%. Low oil throughput is cause for concern. Indeed, under its current configuration, TAPS will be marred with operational issues if the flow drops below a minimum of 400,000 barrels per day.

At the current rate of decline, TAPS production is projected to reach the minimum threshold within the next decade.

The original TAPS design had as many as 12 Pump Stations to handle peak volume, although only 11 were actually built (Pump Station 11 was never built).

Significant investment will be needed to mitigate the problems linked to low oil flow.

In 2004, the Strategic Reconfiguration project was started, aiming to overhaul 4 Pump Stations with state-of-the-art Electric Pumps with Variable Frequency Drives (at Pump Stations 1, 3, 4 and 9).

Atigun Pass

TAPS Pump Stations

Pipeline North of Brooks Range

Nowadays among the active Pump Stations, PS 1, 3, 4 and 9 are the main stations responsible for pushing crude oil through the 48" pipeline. They benefited from the Strategic Reconfiguration project which upgraded the equiment to Electric Pumps with Variable Frequency Drives.

The VFDs enable to mitigate some of the operational issues related to reduced oil flow.

Pump Station 7, in interior Alaska, is also active.

Pump Station 5 is actually a relief station designed to slow down the flow of oil coming down from the Brooks Range.

Pump Stations 2, 6, 8, 10 and 12 were put on standby, but could be brought back in service within 6 months if needed.

Pump Station 11 was never built.

Northern Lights over Pipeline

In Alaska, the nights are cold, but when you are in the middle of nowhere, the stars are particularily bright. Tonight, the auroras are making an appearance above the pipeline.

Aurora Above Pipeline

Photos of the Trans Alaska Pipeline with Aurora in the middle of the winter.

Aurora and Milky Way

Purple and Green Aurora

Purple, yellow and green streaks of light paint the night sky and across the Milky Way.

Alyeska Pipeline

The Alyeska Pipeline Service Company (APSC) is the operator of the 800 mile long pipeline.

Pipeline in Frozen Landscape

Photos of the Trans Alaska Pipeline during the winter.

Pipeline Design

The pipeline zigzags across the Alaskan landscape. This is in fact by design, in order to withstand small to medium earthquakes.

Pipeline across the Arctic Tundra

Below: When the pipeline is above ground, many of the supports are fitted with heat sinks designed to dissipate the heat coming the oil. This was an important design consideration to mitigate impacts to the permafrost.

Pipeline in the Fall

The pipeline snakes across the tundra in the Brooks Range.

Pipeline Pictures

Pictures of the Trans Alaska Pipeline at various locations along the Dalton Highway.


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