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Countdown to Construction
TAPS Facts

Countdown to Construction

Before a single piece of pipe was put into place in the world’s largest privately funded construction project, there was a historic effort to lay the framework for the Trans Alaska Pipeline System. Financing and ownership of the project had to be clearly delineated and planned, environmental concerns and lawsuits tackled, and the issue of Alaska Native traditional lands, through which the proposed pipeline would cross, had to be addressed. The major producers needed to develop a plan for design and construction of the project, and incorporated Alyeska Pipeline Service Company in 1970 to do just that.

To the right: November 16, 1973: President Nixon signed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act. It provided for construction of an oil pipeline in Alaska from North Slope to Port Valdez. The 800-mile-long pipeline took a little over three years to build & cost $8 billion. From the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

Countdown to Construction timeline


March 13
Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) and Humble Oil and Refining Company (now Exxon Company, U.S.A.) announce Prudhoe Bay discovery well. Read this PBS article on Prudhoe Bay discovery.

June 25
Confirmation well announced by ARCO and Humble Oil.

July 29
Pipeline field study team arrives in Alaska under authority of a transportation subcommittee of an ARCO-Humble North Slope Coordinating Committee.

Oct. 28
Atlantic Pipeline Company (a subsidiary of Atlantic Richfield), Humble Oil Pipeline Company (a subsidiary of Humble Oil and Refining Company) and BP Exploration U.S.A., Inc. (a subsidiary of British Petroleum Company, Ltd.) enter into an agreement for a planning study and for engineering design and construction of the Trans Alaska Pipeline Project.


Feb. 7
Atlantic Pipeline, Humble Oil Pipeline and BP Oil Corporation (formerly BP Exploration U.S.A., Inc.) approve an amendment to their original agreement, electing to proceed with design and construction, and changing the name of the project to Trans Alaska Pipeline System. The acronym TAPS is coined.

Feb. 10
Atlantic Pipeline, Humble Oil Pipeline and BP Pipeline Corporation (a subsidiary of BP Oil Corporation) announce plans to build an 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline.

June 6
TAPS files for federal right-of-way permits over public lands.

Sept. 13
First 48-inch pipe arrives in Valdez from Japan.

Oct. 22
Humble Oil Pipeline, Atlantic Pipeline and BP Pipeline are joined by Amerada Hess Corporation, Home Pipeline Company, Mobil Pipeline Company, Phillips Petroleum Company and Union Oil Company of California in joint venture.

Road from Livengood to the Yukon River was built (winter of 1969-1970).


Lawsuits are filed by environmental groups and others to block pipeline construction.

Aug. 27
Trans Alaska Pipeline System Agreement made and signed by Atlantic Pipeline Company, BP Pipeline Corporation, Humble Oil Pipeline Company, Amerada Hess Corporation, Home Pipeline Company, Mobil Pipeline Company, Phillips Petroleum Company and Union Oil Company of California, all referred to as TAPS owners.

TAPS owners form Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, a separate corporation.

Agreement made to design and construct the Trans Alaska Pipeline. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company appointed as contractor and agent for the construction project.


December 18
President Nixon signs the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act into law, explicitly addressing aboriginal land claims in Alaska and paving the way for TAPS authorization.

Interested in how? Listen to this episode of Alaska Public Media’s Midnight Oil Podcast, or read this article on Alaska Native’s impact on the pipeline.


Nov. 16
Trans Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act (TAPAA) becomes law.


Jan. 3
Federal right-of-way grant issued

April 29
Construction of road from Prudhoe Bay to Yukon River begins.

May 3
State right-of-way lease issued.

Sept. 29
Road from Prudhoe Bay to Yukon River completed.


March 27
First pipe laid at Tonsina River.

Want more Countdown to Construction information? Check out this pipeline chronology developed by the PBS.