Approximately half of the 800-mile-long pipeline
is above ground, half is below ground.
The pipeline is surveyed several times per day, mostly by
air. Foot and road patrols also check for problems such as
leaks or pipe settling or shifting. A key diagnostic tool is
the pipeline “pig”—a mechanical device sent through the
pipeline to perform a variety of functions. Corrosion control
along buried portions of the pipeline is assisted by sacrificial
anodes – easily corroded materials deliberately installed
along a pipe to be sacrificed to corrosion, leaving the rest of
the system relatively corrosion free. This reduces corrosion
caused by electrochemical action that may affect buried
sections of pipeline.
A decline in Alaskan oil production could force TAPS closure
decades before the end of its useful life, because at some
low-volume level the pipeline will become impossible to
operate and maintain in a cost-effective way.
Exploring for and producing new oil prospects in offshore
Alaska and on the North Slope is essential to slowing and
reversing the declining trend in Alaskan oil production that
threatens the viability of this key energy lifeline. Sustaining
the movement of oil through TAPS will enhance America’s
energy security and generate continued job creation for
Alaska and the nation.