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TAPS is turning 40: What's your pipeline story?

TAPS' 40th anniversary of operations arrives June 20, 2017, and Alyeska is commemorating the milestone all year. At the heart of this celebration are the memories and voices of those who helped build, operate and maintain the pipeline, and the stories of people, families, businesses and communities with unique ties to TAPS. You'll find many of those stories here in the coming months. We'd also love to share your story!
What's your pipeline story?
• What are your favorite moments working on TAPS?
• What has TAPS meant to you and your family?
• What’s your vision for the next 40 years of TAPS operations?
• How has TAPS impacted your community and Alaska?

Share memories, stories and photos by emailing them to All submissions will be entered in a random drawing for very special TAPS 40th anniversary prizes! Alyeska’s Corporate Communications team will contact you for more information if they plan to use your content. #mypipelinestory #40more #TAPSPRIDE


TAPS at 40 in the news: Alyeska President Tom Barrett offers commentary

Earlier this month, Alyeska President Tom Barrett shared a message about TAPS at 40 with Alyeska staff, TAPS contractors and partners, and Alaska media. His commentary is below and has been shared in the Alaska Journal of Commerce and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. His full message is below.

On June 20, the Trans Alaska Pipeline System reaches a significant milestone: 40 years of operations. TAPS stands as one of the world’s engineering marvels and among Alaska’s most popular landmarks. It’s a symbol of sustained operational excellence, environmental stewardship, community and business partnerships, innovation, integrity, and people who embody Alaska true grit.

TAPS remains at the heart of Alaska’s economic health; throughput from North Slope producers since TAPS startup now exceeds 17.5 billion barrels, and has generated $168 billion in cumulative deposits to the State's General Fund. Oil flow down TAPS helps fuel Alaska government and businesses, communities, schools and nonprofit organizations, and creates jobs and opportunities for thousands of Alaskans.

From the onset, TAPS' architects pondered daunting obstacles: Constructing an 800-mile pipeline across some of the world's most challenging, unforgiving, and unique wilderness. Navigating a path to approval lined with mammoth political, environmental and logistical hurdles. Even as America starved for domestic energy resources, many doubted that this bold, one-of-a-kind pipeline would even be built. Some fiercely opposed it.

But the TAPS owner companies and many Alaska leaders saw the potential transformative value of TAPS for Alaska and Alaskans. They advocated, negotiated, fought and gained approval for TAPS construction.

Then 70,000 men and women raced north to be part of this once-in-a-lifetime project. In October 1975, the workforce peaked at more than 28,000 – they built TAPS and the Dalton Highway, transformed Prudhoe Bay into an energy and economic hub, and created a major marine terminal in Valdez, turning it into one of Alaska's leading ports. The mantra was, "They didn’t know it couldn't be done." They got it done – in just over three years.

Early predictions suggested TAPS wouldn't reach 20 years of operation, much less 40. But employees' dedication, system modernization, North Slope production that exceeded expectations, and ongoing application of lessons learned have sustained TAPS, as has what we at Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, the pipeline operator, call TAPS Pride. It's a sense of ownership held by those connected to the pipeline – Alyeska employees, contractors, family, friends and tens of thousands of people who have contributed to the TAPS legacy.

Upon seeing TAPS, visitors are awed. More than half of the pipeline runs above ground. That engineering decision, due to seismic and permafrost issues, coupled with spectacular Alaska backdrops, make TAPS one of the world's most photographed pipelines.

It is fascinating to talk to visitors at the TAPS viewing site in Fox, or to read social media posts about personal TAPS experiences. The most interesting tales come from TAPS workers. A quarter of the current Alyeska workforce of around 800 has been with the company for more than 20 years; some were here at startup. Several family members are third generation employees. More than 90 percent of the diverse Alyeska workforce lives in Alaska; more than 20 percent are Alaska Native; and 70 percent of TAPS contractor companies are based in Alaska. Those Alaska roots are a foundation of TAPS pride and operational excellence.

The pride extends to the communities where our personnel live and work. From 1978-2016, Alyeska purchased more than $25 billion in goods and services and paid $32 million in non-property taxes and fees, in addition to taxes paid by the TAPS owners. Over that same time, the company contributed $41 million in charitable contributions and $7 million in scholarships. Since 2001, Alyeska staff personally donated more than $1 million and more than 24,000 volunteer hours.

Like any 40-year run, there have been performance highs and lows. Throughput numbers have certainly swung. At peak flow in 1988, 11 pump stations helped move 2.1 million barrels of oil a day; daily averages dropped just about every year since. In 2016, oil throughput, now moved by only four pump stations, was 517,868 barrels a day. It marked the first year of a throughput increase since 2002, and 2017 numbers so far are running above 2016.

Those upticks feed our 40th year of operations with fresh enthusiasm and optimism. More oil through TAPS is the path to smoother, more reliable and efficient operations, and more long-term benefits for Alaskans. Recent reports of discoveries and increased production on the North Slope is great news.

While there has been a lot of change on TAPS over 40 years, one unwavering constant remains: the commitment of the people who work on TAPS today to provide safe, reliable, operational excellence, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, resilient amid all of Alaska's extreme geography and weather.

This should give us all – Alyeska personnel, TAPS contractors, Alaskans, the nation – a vision of another potential TAPS milestone: 40 more years of successful operations across Alaska.

Admiral Tom Barrett, U.S. Coast Guard (ret.), has been president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. since 2011. Read stories or share your own at Alyeska’s 40th anniversary website:

#mypipelinestory: Senator Lisa Murkowski shares TAPS history on Senate floor

On June 20, the 40th anniversary of TAPS startup, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski celebrated the landmark by sharing TAPS history, its impact on Alaska and our nation, and even her own personal connection to TAPS with her colleagues on the Senate floor in Washington, D.C.

Pipeline Partners: Carlile Transportation

It was two brothers starting with two tractors. But the tireless work of John and Harry MacDonald and those tractors grew Carlile Transportation into one of Alaska's top transportation companies and a pivotal partner with Alyeska since 1980.

From those humble beginnings, Carlile now works with Alyeska and dozens of other companies across Alaska and beyond, has acquired other transportation companies, has a strong presence on the North Slope and along TAPS, and is recognized for its reliability and safety culture. 

"We ship millions of pounds of materials across TAPS every year to support operations and projects – having a key partner like Carlile Transportation allows Alyeska to strive for flawless operations year over year," said Alyeska Supply Chain Management Director Dan Flodin. "Carlile Transportation always steps up to the challenges and helps us solve problems together."
Tom Hendrix Jr., Carlile's Vice President of Oil and Gas, recently shared Carlile's history and some memories of the longtime partnership with Alyeska. 

Can you illustrate the impact that TAPS has had on Alaska? 
"TAPS has changed Alaska. It opened up the door for an oil industry that provides good-paying jobs for Alaskans. From the fabrication shops, transportation industry and retail support of the community, TAPS touches every Alaskan regardless of where they work or live in the state. Oil production has provided improvement on our schools, from kindergarten to post-secondary programs. TAPS has made Alaska a better place to live while demonstrating environmental excellence and stewardship. Carlile salutes Alyeska, its employees and contractors on this monumental anniversary. Together, we got it right."

What has the success of TAPS meant to your company? 
"That success has provided the employees of Carlile the opportunity to work, live and raise their families in Fairbanks. I am a second generation Fairbanks guy, and my father went to the UAF School of Engineering and Mines and later worked on TAPS, so the success of TAPS has positively benefited my family. Through our partnership and collaboration, Alyeska has helped our company become a safety leader in our industry. Carlile benefited from the stable and predictable employment opportunities, and when I think about it, we grew up with Alyeska and would not have the Fairbanks base of Line Haul Operations without the opportunities through TAPS."

Please tell us a little bit about the services Carlile provides to Alyeska/TAPS. 
"Carlile Transportation provides line-wide services including: peddle runs, heavy haul construction support and fuel services up and down TAPS. Over the past few decades we have transitioned into providing heavy haul support for the movement of equipment and oversized loads both north and south of Fairbanks. In the early 2000s, we helped Alyeska eliminate the need for operating their own fleet of equipment and have covered most of the required needs for line-wide movement. We have also partnered with Alaska West Express to provide Alyeska with an all Alaska solution for the movement of any equipment, materials and modules to support construction efforts."

"While we started out as a small operation, we have grown over the decades. In 1994 we purchased K&W Transportation to take over the line-wide fuel movement for TAPS. Shortly after that, we purchased the assets and land that Alaska Pacific Leasing had for support on the Drag Reduction Agent railcar offloading and final mile delivery to Alyeska."

You mentioned that working with TAPS has helped Carlile become a safety leader in the transportation industry. Please expand on that.
"Alyeska has been a business partner that has helped us become the company that we are today, with safety on the forefront of our business. As we grew, Alyeska would afford us additional opportunities as we were ready for them. Both of our operations have been through the economic downturns and we both have kept the safety of our employees as the focus of our business regardless of the economy."

Pipeline Pop Culture: "PIPELINE: The Movie"

On the final #TBT before the 40th anniversary of TAPS startup on June 20, we present a blockbuster -- a TAPS at 40 update of "Pipeline," the wildly popular and exciting '70s film of TAPS construction and startup.

Want your own DVD copy? Share your favorite TAPS tales, photos and community connections with us at Later this summer, we will have a drawing to give away DVDs and other very special 40th anniversary prizes to lucky participants and special storytellers.

Until then, enjoy the film!

Alyeska Community Connection: Fairbanks Children's Museum

Even in the Interior's coldest winter months, learning opportunities are warm and welcoming for children and families thanks to the hands-on fun of the Fairbanks Children's Museum's exhibits and programs. This inspiring learning is fueled by passionate staff, volunteers and partners like Alyeska.

The museum's curriculum was developed by invested and certified teachers, museum educators, and a staff member who obtained their masters in theatre for young children. With over 40,000 visitors per year, the Fairbanks Children's Museum has become the third-most visited cultural institution in Fairbanks. 

After operating as a traveling exhibit for its first six years, the museum moved into its permanent downtown location in 2015. While the finishing touches were being made in their soon-to-be headquarters in the former Woolworths building, the owners took their operations for a test-run in the Museum of the North.  

Brenda Riley, Fairbanks Children's Museum Executive Director, recently talked about the museum, its Interior impact, and its partnership with Alyeska and TAPS, which has helped the museum's growth. 

From your perspective, what kind of impact has 40 years of TAPS operations had on the Fairbanks area? 
"The support from Alyeska and TAPS workers over the past 40 years has promoted education and development of youth that are the next generation of our state and workforce. We draw inspiration from local companies like Alyeska because they serve the people of Alaska and don’t shy away from the seemingly impossible. We thank Alyeska for 40 years of dedication and congratulate them on their milestone!"

Alyeska supports the Fairbanks Children's Museum's annual Exploration of Food and Wine Gala fundraiser. What is special about this event? 
"Only 180 people can attend and many are Alyeska employees. Last year, Alyeska donated a safety package that included a set of Bridgestone Blizzaks tires and cold weather gear. Alyeska is truly concerned with safety and preparedness! The audience greatly appreciated the humor of our staff holding up a tire in our event attire. The safety package was auctioned off and raised $2,000 to continue curriculum development and operational financing. This event keeps the doors at the museum open and the ability to bring in a great set of staff members."

The Fairbanks Children's Museum and Alyeska partnership began a year before the museum found its permanent downtown home. Please tell us more about the evolution of the museum.
"When Alyeska first joined the museum's family of supporters, we were in the middle of performing tests on the feasibility of the model and location. Our prototype at the Museum of the North was about to launch to ensure that the children’s museum was going to be a lasting need in the community. Our location is in the heart of downtown Fairbanks; the museum launch was a great addition to the recent revitalization effort of the area. We had our 2014 Gala and the support we received from Alyeska and other donors help launch the successful program we run today."

Tell us about some of the popular programs that families love. 
"Our museum has a variety of exhibits and activities – a few are permanent fixtures but we keep everything dynamic through a changing theme every month and temporary activities. We are proud that community support has helped us invest in a water table, an air maze and a pin screen. Fresh content is always available to returning children through the Imagineering lab and art projects. This month, the theme is transportation, so all of our crafts and lessons teach kids about trucks, planes, trains and more. Kids crave consistency, so we keep some permanent exhibits open for them to return to, but we always want them to experience new things through the power of play."

Pipeline partners: AOGA's 40 Years at Prudhoe Bay

The 40th anniversary of TAPS operations wouldn't be possible without another significant milestone: 40 years of Prudhoe Bay production. To celebrate the history of the North Slope and the impact that the oil and gas industry has had on Alaska, the Alaska Oil and Gas Association recently launched its 40 Years at Prudhoe Bay website:

The site is fascinating, fun and informative, and uses an interactive map and timeline to engage and inform the visitor. There are also videos and stories, pages about Alaska's oil and gas legacy and celebratory events, and an extra-special page dedicated the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.

On the TAPS page, you can get an overview of the pipeline’s history and TAPS sustainability, get TAPS facts and watch exciting, historic videos.

Click here to check out the 40 Years at Prudhoe Bay here.

Pipeline partners: Valdez U-Drive

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."

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