Survey of Publications on Exploration, Development and Delivery of Alaskan Oil Market

EMD-77-11: Published: Jan 14, 1977. Publicly Released: Jan 14, 1977.

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Information was gathered from more than 100 publications on the feasibility, advisability, and building and operation of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

The existence of oil in Alaska has been known since about 1902. It is in a sandstone formation under heavy permafrost layer, near Prudhoe Bay and is the high-sulfur, heavy crude type. Leasing began in 1969, after which the lessees divided the area in half. Estimated initial production will be 1,200,000 barrels a day by 1978 and development expenditures are estimated to be $2,430 million by 1979. The need for the pipeline was first evaluated in 1963 and construction finally permitted in 1973, after proper legislation was enacted and conservation group injunctions ruled upon. The pipeline extends 801 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, across several mountain ranges and land of varying degrees of stability. The pipeline has safety valves to guard against oil leaks, and special construction techniques and materials were used because of the ground and temperature conditions. Continual monitoring of the pipeline will be maintained by a computer in Valdez and a microwave communications system. Completion is expected in 1977, at an estimated cost of $7.7 billion. Three long range distribution systems are being considered and one short term system (shipping through the Panama Canal). The long range plans are trans-provincial, northern tier, and Sohio mid-continent. Foreign sales require Presidential and Congressional approval. There appears to be an adequate domestic tonnage supply for marine transportation. The ICC has regulatory jurisdiction.