Global Valve and Controls

Will the Trans Alaskan pipeline survive?

The Trans Alaskan pipeline is one of the largest pipeline systems in the world. It is 800 miles long and starts on the North slope of Prudhoe Bay and ends in Valdez. Abbreviated "TAPS", The Trans Alaskan Pipeline System opened up in 1977 and since has had oil flow through. Although, the pipeline was built to out last the most extreme cold conditions that Alaska brings, no one for saw that once oil slows down there would be problems. The line now moves a quarter of the volume it carried at its peak. And as the flows slow, the risks are rising.

Just how much less has the Trans Alaskan Pipeline System been producing? Alaska’s output was 565,000 barrels a day last month, down from a peak of more than 2 million in 1988, according to state data. This doesn't mean that Alaska hasn't had any new oil discoveries since the pipeline was put in, simply it is more expensive to drill in the region because of weather conditions in comparison to the lower 48 states where it is much cheaper such as West Texas.

Why is "slow oil", necessarily a bad thing? Lower volumes mean crude travels more slowly through the pipeline, losing heat along the way. And at low temperatures, crude behaves badly. Ice crystals form that can damage pumping equipment. 

What is being done to keep it flowing? Alyeska heats oil at Pump Station One to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with a goal of keeping it above 37 degrees by the time it reaches the export terminal at Valdez, Alaska. 

The joint partnership between the three, BP, Exxon and ConocoPhilips have spent around $200 million upgrading the equipment around the pumps at station one. Every four days, a device known as a pig, a sort of industrial Q-Tip, is sent hurtling through the 48-inch-wide pipeline to scrub out debris. This process is not as cheap as it might sound, as yes it does help the oil from freezing but it also comes at a higher transportation cost. The big three oil giants have also been experimenting by using other techniques to keep the oil moving at a maximum speed. For example, injecting water into the ground ( similar to fracking) to speed up the oil process but how much longer can that go on?

Cryogenic valves for NEGATIVE 380 F









New 5 year drilling plan for Alaska

Time and again the Keystone Pipeline has been rejected by President Obama because of the danger it brings to the people who will near the pipeline and the many animals and forests it will displace. Not only has the Keystone pipeline been rejected but an area in Alaska has been banned from drilling; Chukchi and Beaufort seas in northern Alaska. “the five-year plan also bars drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.” However, this particular plan has allowed drilling to go forward in Alaska’s Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage. This of course can all be changed when Mr. Obama leaves office, but it might take decades to put new policy in place.

While there are those who are against drilling permanently, many residents of Alaska are enraged by this decision. "Arctic development is one of the best ways to create jobs, generate revenues and refill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline," said Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "Why the president is willing to send all of those benefits overseas is beyond explanation."


Cryogenic Ball Valves used for Neg 380 degrees F


Consequences of drilling in the Arctic

Being an animal activist, I am always looking for ways to help the environment and learn how we in the Oil and Gas industry are affecting the environment and how we can help. Until recently there have been a number of oil spills, the most recent and the ones that have affected us the most was the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 people and hundreds of wildlife.  Today, BP is finally paying for it in billions amount of money. Although the BP spill was the deadliest, the Exxon Valadez always comes to mind when 11 million gallons of crude was spilled off the Alaskan coast and although no one died, this oil spill affected hundreds of animals too that forever lost their lives and/or their homes.

Keeping this information in mind drilling in the Arctic becomes a new issue; “The Arctic is estimated to hold the world’s largest remaining untapped gas reserves and some of its largest undeveloped oil reserves. These reserves, if tapped have implications for global climate, and for the Arctic environment.”

Some of the threats associated with tapping in the Arctic are that a small insignificant pipeline leak or any type of accidents big or small will have a major impact on the arctic wildlife and ecosystems. Going back to the BP spill and the Exxon Valadez spill, clean up was possible. Incidents in the Arctic will be almost impossible as the Arctic has cold, icy waters. Because of the climate, the cleanup process will be slow; as a result it will take many, years if not decades for the Arctic regions to recover.  “Whales and other marine mammals use sound to navigate in the water; seismic noise will only disrupt them and will cause stranding and even death.”

At the moment, Shell is trying to get through the government contracts to drill in the Arctic. We can only cross our fingers and hope that there will never be any accidents in the Arctic.