I appreciate the opportunity to share with you some of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s perspectives as we continue work to keep the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, or TAPS, economically and technically durable for Alaska’s future, able to safely transport oil that remains a foundation of Alaska’s economy. One major investment we’re making for the future is substantially upgrading the fleet that supports tanker movements and emergency response for Prince William Sound. As transition to our new marine services contractor continues, momentum is building – six modern tugs and barges have already launched, and two tugs completed sea trials in January. We will all see significant activity this spring as vessels and crews begin arriving in the Sound.
On September 26, I visited with our team in Valdez, where almost 300 individuals stepped up to respond to a terminal spill that occurred near Berth 5 on September 21. Responders included Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (SERVS) staff, other Alyeska and contractor personnel, vessels and crews from the Vessel of Opportunity program, U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation agency personnel, and representatives from the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council.
Submitted by Alyeska Corporate Communications.
While spring officially arrived in March, the snow keeps falling in Valdez, the snowiest city in America. The white stuff has long stymied crews at the Valdez Marine Terminal, who often spend weeks clearing snow from areas around the 1,000-acre facility, including crude oil storage tank roofs. It wasn’t always that way.
“When I started here in the mid-nineties, all we had to do was move oil from tank to tank,” said Al Laudert, a Terminal Maintenance Coordinator. “The oil was so warm, enough of it in the tank would make the snow shed right off the top.”
But with declining throughput, the crude oil leaves the North Slope cooler, takes longer to arrive in Valdez, and isn’t warm enough to melt the snow of the tops of the storage tanks. Alyeska has always had a busy snow removal program, but has had to bring in crews for the tank farms since the early 2000s.
The tank top snow removal crews are made up of 7-10 people who can take up to a week to clear off one tank. This shoveling job is quite a bit bigger than your driveway; the roofs are about an acre in area and more than 60 feet off the ground.
Mike Day, Operations Manager for Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System.
My name is Mike Day and I’m the accountable manager for the marine services transition, which means that I oversee the internal Alyeska transition team and work with Edison Chouest Offshore, or ECO, to make sure they’re ready to provide services in Prince William Sound in 2018. As a lifelong resident of Prince William Sound, it’s incredibly important to me that we are successful.
I recently spent a few days at ECO facilities to monitor the work. ECO is building nine new tugs for Alyeska, and construction is progressing on schedule. They will be built at Edison Chouest shipyards in Louisiana and Mississippi, before completing extensive sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico or Puget Sound, and additional tests in Prince William Sound.