Contractor of the Year: Brice Inc.
While TAPS workers annually monitor hundreds of rivers, streams and waterways that cross under, over or near the pipeline, it is the Sagavaniriktok (Sag) River that causes the most damage to TAPS’ right of way. Brice Incorporated, Alyeska’s 2023 President’s Choice Contractor of the Year recipient, provided materials and support along some of the river’s most challenging areas along TAPS during the 2022 project season. The team’s commitment to environmental protection was evident throughout the season and their strong communication helped repair work stay on track. Brice’s teams also remained agile during times with weather delays and wildlife sightings.
Ann Marie White, Alyeska’s Systemwide Maintenance Sr. Manager, recognized the strong relationship Brice had with her project teams. “Brice played a huge role in our field work last year,” said White. “Their attention to detail in daily reports and regular communication with Alyeska’s CMCs (Civil Maintenance Coordinators) elevated their work even more. With so much work happening in the field during project season, we partnered with a skilled company that has a similar culture and values. Being aligned in those two areas with Brice was key to our success last year.”
When spring approaches each year, powerful swells of the Sag River cross the landscape near the North Slope and northernmost stretches of TAPS, and ice-and-aufeis buildup melts into fast-flowing waters that wreak damage on the TAPS’ right of way. This carnage can include sections of pipeline exposed to scouring or, worse, entirely unprotected pipeline. Annual rivers and floodplains repair work, and the mineral mining that fuels it, go hand-and-hand.
When that repair work begins the past two seasons, Brice, Incorporated provided essential gravel and a rocky material called riprap, and in 2022 delivered mineral mining services in the Pump Station 1-4 area (and far beyond the Sag River, near PS 9). The use of riprap and gravel is necessary for the stability and maintenance of the pipeline, and the closest large rock quarry to the Sag River is south of PS4, near TAPS Milepost 153.
Brice’s work begins each spring with developing pits, building roads, removing overburden, producing and stockpiling material, and cleaning up sites. From there, the product is hauled more than 100 miles north and used for Alyeska floodplain and restoration and training structures that are designed to guide the flow of water away and prevent pipeline damage. Extra material is stockpiled for the following flood season. Their crews are nimble and able to adapt to multiple delays from unforeseen weather challenges like long-lasting high-water levels in rivers and streams or wait periods for permitting reviews and approvals.
Brice’s commitment to safe operations and environmental protection has been evident in their daily operations. During 2022, Brice continually went above and beyond to provide the best product possible while leaving sites safe and environmentally sound – ensuring sites were left in an improved state by cleaning up scattered debris left by former pit users.
Crews also demonstrated a high level of environmental stewardship last summer when they reported a golden eagle that frequented the area near the OMS 112 pit. The crew was worried the eagle had nested nearby because of the regular sightings, even while crews and equipment worked. A few days after the sighting, Brice cancelled all pit blasting activity and came up with a new plan to provide TAPS with the product needed while maintaining environmental responsibility. With the new plan and extensive experience in the area, work moved forward without compromising the eagle and its offspring.
Sherri Kelly, Brice Project Manager, commented on her team’s decision to protect the surrounding wildlife.
“A lot of us grew up and continue to live in Alaska,” said Sherri Kelly, Brice Project Manager. “We understand that where we work is also our backyard. Our love for and protection of the environment is intrinsic and is deeply rooted, both individually and collectively at Brice. We work closely with Alyeska’s Environment team, CMCs and Land department, and are aware of the potential wildlife in the area and the need to ensure all wildlife is protected.”
Brice teams are often praised for their communication. Their daily reports include summaries for mineral mining and rivers and floodplains, and are communicated clearly and inclusive for all areas of work. Additionally, each area’s Alyeska CMC said they were impressed that sites were left clean, and the various stockpiles left were provided with an accurate assessment of inventory and focus areas for future mining efforts.
The following message was shared from Brice leadership on receiving the 2023 Atigun Award:
“The Brice Family is honored to receive the Contractor of the Year Award from Alyeska for our work on TAPS. Excellence in Health, Safety and Environmental practices, efficiency in production and providing exceptional quality services in challenging conditions are the keystones to the foundation upon which the Brice Inc. family built one of the most respected construction companies in Alaska. The founding principles upon which Brice Inc. was predicated have transcended throughout the generations and are still the driving force behind our success today. We appreciate and look forward continuing our partnership with Alyeska, wherein we continue working together to achieve the mutual goal of safely and efficiently maintaining a key component of our nation’s critical infrastructure, while preserving and protecting our majestic environment in our backyard.”