The Trans Alaska Pipeline is a modern marvel of engineering. It spans 800 miles of Alaskan wilderness from the chilly waters of Prudhoe Bay to the northernmost ice free port of Valdez. The pipeline crosses three mountain ranges and over 800 streams and rivers. This system also includes pump stations, communication sites, material sites, a work pad, and access roads. The Trans Alaska Pipeline System, or TAPS, contributes approximately 20% of this nation's domestic oil production. The immense size of this project means there are also immense rewards and challenges. The opportunity for conflict is great, whether from environmentalists or the indigenous Alaskan people. What extraordinary events would have to transpire in order for this marvel to come into being? .
One day in 1968 Atlantic Richfield Company and Humble Oil and Refining (now Exxon) discovered approximately 10 billion barrels of recoverable reserves buried beneath the frigid waters of Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. Now the question arose how in the world do we transport this oil from here to someplace we can use it? The answer, an 800-mile long 48-inch diameter pipeline of course. So these two companies combined with British Petroleum Company devised an agreement for a planning study and engineering design for what would become the Trans Alaska Pipeline System. In 1969 their plans were announced to the public and five additional companies hopped on the bandwagon and Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was formed in 1970. Alyeska is comprised of BP, ARCO, Exxon, Mobil, Amerada Hess, Phillips Alaska, and Unocal In 1973 the Trans Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act became law and construction of the pipeline began in the spring. During the time between the first plans and the time actual construction began many things were happening. Approximately $2.2 million dollars was spent on archaeological surveys 330 sites were excavated and 15,000 soil samples were taken.