Alyeska Pipeline Company, operators of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, received shipment of its 15,000,000,000th barrel of oil from North Slope producers on December 21st 2005. The very first barrel of oil left Pump Station One of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) at Prudhoe Bay on June 20th, 1977 and arrived in Valdez, 800 miles away, on July 28. Twenty-eight years and 15 billion barrels later the Trans-Alaska Pipeline is still flowing and Alaska is still saving the nation billions of dollars annually in importation costs. Currently Alaska supplies the nation with 17% of its domestic production at @900,000 barrels of oil a day.
TAPS took just over two years to build at a cost just over $8 billion and was the largest privately funded construction project at the time.
The town of Valdez in Prince William Sound is the terminal for the pipeline and loading port for tanker traffic to the south. Alaskan oil is transported to refineries in Puget Sound, Washington, Los Angeles and the big island of Hawaii. Of note on that point is another milestone with the 10,000th tanker escort to take place from the Valdez terminal in early December since 1989. Over 18,000 tanker voyages have embarked from the Valdez terminal since it’s opening 28 years ago.
Yet despite these milestones Alaskan oil production has dramatically decreased from its peak. A chart at the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas (Department of Natural Resources) website graphically shows the decline.
Oil and gas production in Alaska has decreased an average of 4.49% each year for the past 16 years. Alaska contributed 28.1 million barrels of oil to the nation in December last year saving the nation $1,348,800,000 in importation costs. That’s a $1.3 billion savings in one month from a pipeline that is flowing at less than half capacity. A full Trans-Alaska Pipeline means a maximum capacity of just over 2.1 million barrels a day.
The 10-02 Area of ANWR specifically set aside for oil and gas exploration by Congress lies only 55 miles away from Pump Station One of TAPS. The 10-02 is estimated by the USGS to contain the best potential for a “super-giant” oil field on the North American continent. Contributions by ANWR oil will have the capability to fill the TAPS for over 25 years. Had then President Clinton not vetoed ANWR legislation when it passed Congress in 1995, using EIA’s current figures, Alaska would have saved the nation $100,800,000 every single day in 2005. And in 2006 the savings to the nation would be an average of $114,450,000 per day!
Importing oil from abroad is purely a one way street for America as all the cash, all the jobs, all the infrastructure / expertise, all the security is sent abroad with only product in return. It should be noted that during their development, the oil fields in the Alaskan Arctic were denounced by radical environmental groups such as Sierra Club as only having “2 and a half years worth of oil” and “not able to make any valuable contribution to our national energy needs”. Similar arguments can still be heard today about potential development in the 10-02 Area of ANWR only 50 miles from TAPS on the Arctic Coastal Plain. This 15 billion barrel record and 28 operational years latter puts those groups and nay-sayers to shame. Using the most conservative estimates of ANWR reserves, ANWR oil would keep the pipeline open for 30 years or more and save the nation billions.
For more information on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and its anniversary milestone visit the Alyeska Pipeline Company website.