The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) is one of America’s
energy arteries, with the ability to transport oil from
Alaska’s Arctic and OCS areas to the rest of the continent.
Since opening for business in 1977, TAPS has strengthened
America’s economy and energy security by moving 17 billion
barrels of oil from the Alaska North Slope to the West Coast.
This oil production has provided jobs and a secure supply
of fuel to American consumers in the growing states on the
TAPS’ design was based primarily on the soil conditions
found along the right-of-way. There were two principal
pipeline designs: above ground and below ground. To
avoid potential problems with permafrost, the pipeline was
built above ground on vertical support members (VSMs). In
areas where either unfrozen or thaw-stable permafrost were
encountered, the pipeline was buried conventionally.
Special below-ground burial sites are used in areas where thaw-unstable
permafrost was found but where the pipeline had to be buried for highways, animal crossings or to avoid rockslides