From Alyeska: New year, new barge, renewed optimism for 2022

By Danika Yeager
Interim President, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company

Photo of Danika Yeager, Interim President, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company
Danika Yeager

2022 marks an exciting milestone; the 45th anniversary of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, or TAPS. And in January, I stepped into the role as Alyeska president after Brigham McCown’s departure. I couldn’t be prouder to serve; I joined TAPS in April 2021, and it’s already been one of my most memorable and meaningful professional experiences. I look forward to getting to know the Council’s Board members, staff, and volunteers as I transition into this new role.

I’m also excited to celebrate our anniversary with you; we would not be able to keep the pipeline running without Alaskans. Some of you were a part of TAPS design, construction, start up, and maintenance. Many have worked on TAPS or had a family member who did. Others provide goods or services to TAPS, or workers’ families. All share in this legacy and depend on one another for a robust future for our state.

The statue that commemorates the TAPS construction era and sits at the Valdez City Dock has a plaque that proclaims, “We didn’t know it couldn’t be done.” Today, we now know that our work is never done; maintenance and renewal activities will keep our crews busy this summer. Projects include the cleaning, inspection, and coating of ballast piping at the Valdez Marine Terminal. Elsewhere, a robotic inspection tool will inspect relief piping from the East Metering building to the East Tank Farm. This important piping system transports crude to tankage in the event of an overpressurization event. Tank cleaning and inspection work plans are underway.

At Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, or SERVS, our team is preparing for spring Vessel of Opportunity training, as well as a full slate of drills and exercises this year. I’m pleased to announce that Alyeska and the TAPS Marine Shippers have commissioned a new large oil spill response barge, or OSRB. Barge OSRB-5 will replace the lightering barge Mineral Creek in 2023. It will be built at Gunderson shipyards in Portland, where several of the other open water barges were constructed during the 2018 marine services transition. Barge OSRB-5 is a sistership to the first OSRBs and will feature equipment to transfer cargo off a stricken tanker and assist with nearshore deployments. It also improves upon the earlier OSRBs with additional hydraulic systems for nearshore capabilities, a more robust snow removal system, and a stern mooring winch.

As we begin our 45th year with optimism and pride, our greatest asset remains our employees; Alaskans around the state working to keep TAPS running safely, reliably, and efficiently. In January, the American Petroleum Institute launched its annual State of American Energy event, highlighting the contributions of the oil and gas industry – and its employees – to the economy and communities around the country. This year, the virtual session held special significance to TAPS because it featured one of Alyeska’s own: lifelong Alaskan, small-business owner, and Valdez operations and maintenance coordinator, Jenna Compehos.
Jenna embodies #TAPSPride. Her family has lived in Prince William Sound for generations. She is a hard worker, a strong advocate for TAPS, and an engaged and passionate community member. We couldn’t be prouder that this year’s State of American Energy features Jenna, because employees like her truly represent a bright future for the oil and gas industry here in Alaska and nationwide. Watch this video to learn more about Jenna.

I look forward to celebrating our legacy and exciting future with you this year.

From Alyeska: Annual health fair held online

Submitted by: Alyeska Corporate Communications

Spring brings many things to Prince William Sound – salmon, humpback whales and orcas, and the Alyeska Prince William Sound Traveling Health Fair! The 2020 health fair was canceled just weeks before departure due to the worsening pandemic. Like many things this year, COVID-19 required some creative retooling to carry out the 2021 event, which was held virtually the week of May 17.

Beginning in January, Alyeska personnel, local health and wellness providers, and Chenega and Tatitlek teachers and community members worked to develop classroom sessions to support specific targets set by the Chugach School District. Key areas of focus included nutrition, body awareness and first aid, and substance abuse prevention.

“The providers are always willing to adapt, create, and offer topics that we’ve asked for and deliver it all with such meaningful presentation,” said Tatitlek teacher Nichole Palmer. “They were innovative and came up with a way to deliver the traveling health fair, without traveling! I believe our students were able to get knowledgeable information that will help them progress in their levels.”

Classroom sessions were held over Zoom and materials that complimented the virtual lessons were distributed to the schools beforehand, along with other goodies for the students.

Among a strong slate of classes, there were some highlights. Students learned some healthy, easy, and delicious dip recipes made from pantry staples and what nutrition labels can tell them about what they’re eating. A yoga teacher led elementary students in movement class based on the life cycle of salmon. The week capped off with a panel put on by Alyeska’s Alaska Native program for Tatitlek and Chenega high schoolers. Employees from across Alaska talked about their journeys to the TAPS workforce, notable mentors, helpful tips, and the importance of hard work and resilience.

“We were disappointed that we couldn’t hold the event in person this year but keeping community members and providers safe and healthy was at the forefront of our minds,” said Kate Dugan, Valdez Communications Manager. “I’m so grateful for the volunteers who brought flexibility and imagination to the table and made the event successful. We’re all looking forward to an in-person Prince William Sound Traveling Health Fair soon!”

From Alyeska: Spring Update

Brigham McCown
Alyeska President

Spring is an exciting time as Alaska emerges from winter energized and ready for more light and activities. After the last year, this feels more important than ever. As you know, the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, or TAPS, never stopped delivering for Alaska through the challenges of the pandemic. Our operations continued reliably, but I recognize for many, there are welcome changes ahead. As we head into the warmer season, I would like to share a few recent highlights.

Live fire training

In my last update, I talked about Tower 1, a multi-purpose $1.7M fire apparatus truck equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, and the innovation Alyeska brought on board to enhance response capabilities and keep our people safe. In February, I was able to see the Valdez Marine Terminal fire brigade in action when I participated in live fire training in Texas. Each year, fire brigade members hone their skills at this important opportunity for hands-on action with fire in a tightly controlled setting. Seeing their leadership and expertise up close was incredibly impressive. Even as a volunteer brigade member, working alongside this group of energetic professionals increased my confidence and feeling of safety.

Vessel of Opportunity training

The pandemic required nimble changes, resilience, and creativity from all. One Alyeska program that required special attention was the Vessel of Opportunity program. To keep communities, crews, and our personnel safe, we did not provide the standard three-day training. We were able to provide 8-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response, or HAZWOPER, training online, and more than 1300 crewmembers completed the training before the end of the year. SERVS also conducted more than 16 on-water deployments and utilized more than 80 vessels of opportunity.

This year, I am pleased to report we will be holding Vessel of Opportunity training in person, with some changes to ensure the health of those involved. Alyeska will continue to offer online HAZWOPER training as well as distance learning opportunities, to be completed before crews undertake two days of hands-on, on-water training. This plan will reduce classroom time and allows additional flexibility for on-water weather days and make scheduling more convenient for vessel owners and crewmembers. Our entire team is looking forward to continuing this enduring and important partnership.

Vaccination efforts

As Alaska and the rest of the country ramps up vaccination efforts, Alyeska is recognized by the State of Alaska as an enrolled provider. This allows Alyeska to order, handle, store, and administer vaccines. Alyeska receives its vaccines in Fairbanks, and from that central location, can ship vaccines up and down the line and to Anchorage. Alyeska’s Occupational Health Unit team is months into deploying COVID-19 vaccines across TAPS, following state criteria for prioritization. As a result, I am proud to say that approximately 700 employees and contractors across the state have started the vaccination process. In the coming months, we will continue to do our part by making vaccinations accessible to our employees, not only to protect TAPS team members and their families, but to protect the state and the communities where we operate.

In the months ahead, I am particularly looking forward to spending a significant amount of time in the communities where we operate, and I look forward to collaborating on our shared mission of safely delivering Alaskan oil to market.

From Alyeska: Alyeska wins United States Coast Guard award for environmental excellence

The United States Coast Guard has announced that Alyeska earned a gold-level William A. Benkert Award for Environmental Excellence. This is the premiere award presented by the Coast Guard that honors members of the marine industry for excellence in areas of marine safety and environmental protection.

Photo of two escort tugs assisting a tanker at the Valdez Marine Terminal’s oil loading docks.
Two escort tugs assist a tanker at the Valdez Marine Terminal’s oil loading docks. Photo courtesy Alyeska Corporate Communications.

The program notes, “Gold level recipients have expended extraordinary effort into protecting the environment and it shows. This biennial award recognizes organizations for outstanding achievements in all aspects of marine environment protection.”

The award specifically reviewed Alyeska’s marine safety and environmental performance between 2018-2019 and included highlights such as the marine services transition, the organization’s safety culture and performance, environmental monitoring, community partnerships, and philanthropy programs. Though the nomination was focused on the Valdez Marine Terminal and Prince William Sound, work around TAPS – like the 2019 Minton Creek exercise and Alyeska’s ongoing work with University Alaska Fairbanks on unmanned aerial vehicles – was also recognized.

“Since joining Alyeska, I’ve seen a resolute commitment to environmental stewardship around the TAPS,” said Alyeska President Brigham McCown. “I know that the support from communities and organizations like the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council is invaluable. The water quality monitoring performed by PWSRCAC serves as important validation of our progress.”

The Benkert Award was created to recognize outstanding achievements in marine environmental protection that go beyond mere compliance with industrial and regulatory standards. It is intended to be a creative exchange of ideas and innovations to everyone’s benefit. It serves as a map for assessing environmental management strengths and weaknesses while stressing a continual improvement.

This environmental award is named for Rear Admiral William M. Benkert (1923-1989), who served at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC as Chief of the Office of Marine Environment and Systems from 1972 until 1974, and as Chief of the Office of Merchant Marine Safety from 1974 until 1978. He is fondly remembered as the father of the Coast Guard’s Marine Environmental Protection Program.

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