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The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was the largest private construction project of its time. The pipeline is 800 miles long and has a diameter of four feet. The zigzagging pipeline carries crude oil from 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle to the terminal at Valdez.
  • Construction - 1974-1977
  • Mile-by-mile design cost $7.7 billion
  • Crosses extreme terrain and climate zones
  • In areas, refrigerated pipe protects permafrost
  • Designed to accommodate environmental concerns
  • Delivered over 2 million barrels/day at its peak in 1988
  • Transported an average of 890,000 barrels/day in 2005
  • Alaska Pipeline (video) - explores the impact the pipeline had on culture and society in Alaska as well as the environment, featuring the men and women who worked on the line as well as long-time Alaska residents, members of the Native Alaskan community, environmentalists, government geologists, congressional supporters and foes of the project, and local Alaska politicians.

What's the problem?
As much as ten billion barrels of oil lay below the frozen tundra of Prudhoe Bay -- the largest oil find in North America.
  • Ask - What would it take to build a pipeline to bring that oil to market?
  • Imagine - The pipeline had to transport the oil to the ice-free port of Valdez where it could be loaded onto tankers to transport it to markets all over the world.
  • Design, Build - For more than three years, workers battled brutal Arctic weather to construct an eight hundred mile pipeline that traversed three mountain ranges, thirty-four rivers, and eight hundred streams, and that withstood earthquakes and sub-zero temperatures.
  • Improve - The pipeline is still in use, many years after its "design life" and continues to be maintained and upgrade to meet new environmental standards.

That's engineering
  • welding the pieces of the pipeline together
  • pumping oil through the 800-mile pipeline.
  • Viscous Flow in Pipes (Internal Flow)

Engineering ideas
  • ice-free, sub-zero, permafrost, environmental standards, extreme terrain, refrigeration, construction,

Do It
Challenges for you to work on...
  • welding activity - try welding the pieces of the pipeline together
  • You do it: Safety - Survey the Alaska landscape and make appropriate and safe construction choices.
  • Alaska Pipeline - Examine sections of Alaskan terrain and choose the pipeline strategy that works best for each.

News, updates

Learn more...
  • Alyeska Pipeline Service Company: Pipeline Facts - The Alyeska Pipeline Service Company represents a consortium of oil companies that run the Trans-Alaska pipeline. Their site includes news releases, technical papers, data, and pipeline trivia.

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