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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Alyeska Pipeline

The Alyeska Pipeline runs for 800 miles from the Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, AK.      We have seen it in the distance many times during our Alaskan travels but this is the first time we could really get up close.    It really amazes me that they let you get right up to it.

The pipeline crosses three mountain ranges and three major earthquake faults.     It cost $8 billion to build in 1975 - 1977.     The first oil started through on June 20, 1977 and the first tanker to carry this crude oil left Valdez on August 1st.    That's a pretty quick timetable for a project this large.

The pipeline is placed underground where the ice permits.    Most of Alaska has permafrost which never melts.    When it is above ground, it is built in a zigzag configuration to allow for expansion or contraction of the pipe due to temperature changes.   This pattern also allows for movement of the pipeline during an earthquake.

This is the first of many signs telling us what we can and cannot do.

The area behind RJ is one of the areas where the pipeline is underground.     There are a lot of warning signs telling you not to do anything stupid!

These pipes have a diameter of 48 inches -- RJ is measuring how high it is at this spot.

Devices called "pigs" improve the flow of oil through the pipeline and monitor its condition.   The orange  polyurethane sample in this pipe segment is a cleaning and flow improvement pig.    Pigs are among the most important tools available for protecting the pipeline and detecting potential problems.

We had seen the pipeline from a distance many times in our travels around Alaska but it was interesting seeing it up close.     Your education of the pipeline lesson for the day has been completed!

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