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Alyeska earns 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.

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.

“This award is an awesome acknowledgement of our employees and their commitment to protecting the precious environment we call home,” said Betsy Haines, Alyeska Senior Vice President, Operations & Maintenance. “We’re recognized, in part, for our work in prevention, and also our safe and effective responses when a bad day occurs.”

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. 

TAPS turns 44

A recent article in Alaska Business Monthly, "TAPS turns 44," touches on the past, present and future of the pipeline, as well as the safety focus, maintenance work, operations approach and talented people that keep it running. Click here to read the article.

Valdez Marine Terminal spill updates

Response and recovery work on the water and on the ground continue in response to the spill at the Valdez Marine Terminal. Follow the ongoing efforts and subscribe for updates at www.alyeskaresponds.com.

TAPS update from Alyeska President Brigham McCown

Click here or on the image above to view a video from Alyeska President Brigham McCown, who provides an update on the organization's response to COVID-19, our pipeline people, and work on TAPS. #TAPSPride

Message to stakeholders, March 28

Click here for a PDF version of the letter to stakeholders from Alyeska President Brigham A. McCown

March 28, 2020

Dear community member,

I wanted to update you on Alyeska’s measures to protect against COVID-19 (coronavirus) and any impacts on the continued operations of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). Alaskans count on Alyeska and TAPS to deliver North Slope crude safely and reliably every day. Pipelines are the very lifeblood of our economy. Like other companies designated critical infrastructure, our workforce is working to keep the nation, state, and the communities they live and work in both healthy and functioning. As an organization and as individuals, we know the importance of our role as a steadfast and robust community partner in all conditions, as we have been for more than 42 years.

Alyeska continues to proactively apply guidance from our medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Whether working from home or transiting in the state or local communities, we have implemented best practices in order to protect our workforce as well as those around them. These steps include hygiene protocols, self-monitoring for illness, maintaining social distancing, eliminating most travel, and implementing telework wherever possible because we take our responsibilities seriously. Alyeska has also taken these additional steps to limit the spread of the virus:

  • Approximately 500 Alyeska/TAPS office staff members (including dozens in Valdez) are working remotely, expanding the organization’s commitment to the safety of all workers by supporting recommended social distancing practices.
     
  • We have implemented screening for operation critical areas around TAPS including pump stations, our Operations Control Center, and the Valdez Marine Terminal. All employees are expected to self-screen and will also be screened daily by qualified personnel.
     
  • We submitted a travel plan to the State of Alaska that outlines our protocols for quarantining workers who live outside the state before returning for work. Employees transiting within the state for essential work onsite are following similar protocols to those traveling from out of state.
     
  • Individuals who live in or have recently visited or had family members visit restricted countries and states, as defined by Alyeska’s Medical Director using CDC data, have been asked to self-isolate and work remotely for 14 days. We have several employees and contractors meeting this commitment today.  
     
  • We have identified and secured isolation facilities and materials along TAPS should any of our workforce become ill. 
     
  • We are reducing our field activities and have been restricting non-essential travel along the TAPS route from Pump Station 1 to Valdez for more than 10 days. 
     
  • All contractors are also expected to work with their employees to meet these same high standards.
     
  • We continue to coordinate with government and business industry partners to ensure we have a coordinated and unified approach. 

This situation is fluid, and Alyeska continues seeking out knowledge and will continue to implement best practices to keep our employees, their families, and Alaskans safe. In this dynamic time, we are continually reviewing and updating measures to protect workers’ health and continue the important work of operating TAPS.

We are here to answer questions and concerns you may have. We are all in this together, and we need each other’s support so please stay in touch and let us know how we are doing,


Brigham A. McCown
President

#TAPSPride shines during challenging times

Alaska's pipeline people continue their routine of safe operations of TAPS 24/7, even as the world is changing so fast around us. They are working in remote areas like pump stations and outside along the rugged 800-mile TAPS route. Others are hunkering down and working remotely away from urban offices. Some continue working in facilities and office settings due to their unique roles while practicing social distancing. All Alyeska employees remain focused on the most important things: the health and safety of our people and the reliable operation of TAPS. Like everyone, our people have faced major change, challenges and distractions, but our culture of preparedness and safety has helped us move forward together. Everyone who works on TAPS appreciates the importance of their work and what the pipeline's operations means to our communities and our fellow Alaskans, to Alaska's economy, to our nation's energy independence. We call that #TAPSPride.

Going the extra mile: 2020 Atigun Awards recipients

The 2020 Atigun Awards season is here! TAPS employees nominated colleagues for outstanding work during 2019, and TAPS executives selected the Atigun Awards recipients. The annual awards honor employees, contractors and teams who truly "go the extra mile."
 
Atigun Awards elevate that impressive work in the categories of Environment; Innovation; Health and Safety; Integrity; and Teamwork. In addition, special honors include Lifetime Achievement, TAPS Professional of the Year, TAPS Engineer of the Year, TAPS Technician of the Year, and Contractor-Partner of the Year, which were selected by recently-retired Alyeska president Tom Barrett.
 
"It is exciting to see the Atigun Awards program grow and the TAPS pride it highlights in the amazing award winners and nominees, and everyone on TAPS who works and celebrates with them," said Barrett. "I've enjoyed elevating recognition in this way and especially treasured the opportunity to select President's Choice Award recipients every year. Please join me in congratulating the individuals and teams that are being recognized for their outstanding work and projects in 2019."
 
Atigun Awards recognize performance excellence for:
 
• Environment: Recognizing achievements in environmental protection, habitat enhancement, regulatory compliance or pollution prevention.
• Innovation: Leveraging knowledge and creativity to continuously improve operations and efficiency.
• Health and Safety: Recognizing achievements in health and safety of people and property, including process and operational safety.
• Integrity: Demonstrating commitment to the highest ethical standards. Recognizing achievements in meeting commitments to protect the operating integrity of TAPS and the integrity of APSC business practices.
• Teamwork: Applying shared responsibility for Alyeska's mission and resources entrusted to us.
 
The 2019 award recipients and honorable mentions are listed below.
 
2020 Atigun Awards recipients:
 
Environment Winner: Enhancement of traditional fish passage design
 A novel approach was used in 2019 to extend the life of low-water crossings, used for vehicle and equipment access, to reduce maintenance efforts and enhance fish passage. Traditional methods required frequent maintenance and often resulted in higher water velocity. With the new design, streams can be maintained without increasing the velocity, which allows fish to pass through with ease. 
 
Environment Honorable Mention: Wildlife response capabilities on TAPS
 New goals were reached during the Minton Creek Combined Resource Exercise on July 30. The introduction of new technologies, remote deployment of the Wildlife Response Module and successful integration of agency participation was implemented to set a new standard for wildlife response efforts while successfully testing response capabilities, communication, logistics and safety standards. 
 
Notable highlights include integrating the use of drone and helicopters in the same airspace to gather nearly real time footage for use in the Fairbanks Emergency Operations Center. A new permit application process was also developed and tested during the exercise, which received positive reviews from agency participants.   
 
Innovation Winner: Direct weld metal deposition
 2019 was the first year that direct weld metal deposition was performed to repair internal and external corrosion on TAPS piping. This new application replaces wall metal loss due to corrosion or mechanical damage. Without it, Alyeska would have likely incurred over a million dollars in repair costs by using traditional sleeve repairs. After rigorous testing and successful changes in industry coding, this new application changed how TAPS performs certain corrosion repairs and how the rest of the industry approaches these situations. This technology will help the organization reduce the duration and cost of pipeline corrosion repairs, which could be about a million dollars per year on the average, by reducing the need for massive digs while also reducing employee exposures to safety risk. 
 
Innovation Honorable Mention: Evolution of contingency of ICS planning team
 2019 was a transformative year for Alyeska's Incident Command System's (ICS) Contingency Incident Planning (CIP) team. They took an innovative approach to prioritizing their work and developing a schedule to plan for how they would accomplish their duties while evolving individual skillsets. Work duplication and rework was reduced between their department and other contributors by encouraging bringing up process edits early and involving the right voices while planning for the year. Their work and preparation paid off, and the team is more effective than ever, even with fewer resources than previous years. They also expanded the use of innovative software during an incident, including IAP and Send Word Now, to improve ICS documentation and send notifications and communicate across TAPS. Due to their planning, the BP Shipper Drill was cut down to two days instead of the expected three- to four-day duration. 
 
Health and Safety Winner: PIT Program Facility Inspection Team – X619 PS03 confined space entry work
 A group comprised of individuals from Alyeska Safety, Houston Contracting, and Team Industrial Services helped provided a resolution after the discovery of additional corrosion that was not detectable by the Diakont Inline Inspection (ILI) tool at PS03 during the X619 below-ground inspection. ILI crawler inspections were performed in Tank 130 inlet/outlet 36-inch piping, and PS03 relief system below-ground piping. Repairs were performed inside multiple sections of 36-inch piping and each route had only a single entry and exit point. Confined space entry to this extent is a rare occurrence for TAPS workers, so extensive plans were created and coordinated successfully to ensure safe inspections and repairs of multiple sections of pipe. 
 
Health and Safety Honorable Mention: Wellness on TAPS
 In 2019, the OHU team brought to life a strategy to make health a priority on TAPS. This was accomplished by providing education and wellness resources for field and urban employees. While Alyeska already had a robust Wellness Program that included a health maintenance reimbursement, a registered dietician for counseling, and healthier meals options in the field, resources were expanded to include educational opportunities on women's and men's health, opportunities to participate in activities including a six-week family wellness challenges, and various events the promote healthy lifestyles. Field medics are also being recognized for their work to bring onsite medical support, including blood pressure and blood sugar tracking, flu shots, blood draws for wellness screenings, and supporting the Wellness Program by presenting topics that are shared in the Anchorage, Valdez and Fairbanks offices. 
 
Integrity Winner: Nordale PFAS mitigation
 When a sampling of the Nordale Yard water well showed concentrations of PFAS above the State of Alaska action levels for groundwater contamination, a small group at Alyeska took swift action to communicate to potentially impacted parties. Their proactive action to mitigate the situation helped Alyeska maintain a positive, trusted reputation among the community and with regulatory agencies. 
 
Integrity Honorable Mention: PS 10 facility removal
 For the first time on TAPS, almost an entire facility was demolished and removed. With no template to follow, each day of the PS 10 demolition was well-planned and methodically performed to ensure safe and efficient success. Cleanup was performed at the end of each workday to ensure materials were contained and secured. The people involved in this project also ensured that Alyeska kept its commitment to dismantle unused TAPS facilities while meeting all regulatory, Grant and Lease requirements. 
 
Teamwork Winner: Triconex replacement
 Alyeska staff and contractors worked side by side to remove old equipment and wiring to install the G007 Triconex system replacement on Remote Gate Valves (RGVs) along TAPS. The recognized efforts between pump station teams, Automation/SCADA engineers, and OCC maintenance personnel were done with consistency and safety in mind. The new Triconex units can be remotely managed by automation engineers and will lead to 20 years of reliable communications and control of RGVs. 
 
Teamwork Honorable Mention: Operation Blue Whale project
 After a 10-year legal hold was lifted, Alyeska's Compliance and Documentation team started a warehouse cleanup effort. This massive project involved collaboration with several departments, many of which had to sort through its old records. This team made a consistent process to determine what could be destroyed and put a new radio-frequency identification system in place to easily locate and track boxes in the future. Alyeska shredded more than 15,000 boxes totaling 455,000 pounds (more than the weight of a blue whale), and the departmental collaboration resulted in a successful 12-week cleanup. 
 
Teamwork Honorable Mention: 2019 lower Sag River emergency flood repairs
 During the spring months of 2019, the lower Sagavanirktok (Sag) River basin experienced its fifth highest flood level in the past 40 years due to ice buildup and unusually warm daily temperatures. After accelerated snowmelt, flooding breached numerous TAPS earthwork structures designed to protect buried mainline from erosion and washout exposure. Considerable external corrosion damage was done to the Cathodic Protection System, buried mainline and fuel gas line. The highest risk was exposure to more than 350 feet of buried 48-inch mainline between Milepost 28.2-28.3. 
 
Several teams collaborated to find solutions to the flood damage and numerous challenges were confronted during this work campaign. Investigation and surveillance from helicopter overflights and drones helped teams make informed decisions in identifying repairs. technology determined exposed pipe damage through aerial photogrammetry and in washout areas with underwater photos and videos. Helicopter overflights also helped prioritize a list of needed repairs for each team. Sourcing numerous permits and resources for repairs took coordination and discipline in following consistent processes. 
 
 
The 2019 President's Award recipients are: 
◦Contractor of the Year: Central Environment, Inc. (CEI) 
◦Engineer of the Year: Dave Roberts
◦Technician of the Year: Sailor Williams
◦Lifetime Achievement: Rod Hanson
◦Professional of the Year: Michelle Egan
◦Professional of the Year: Nichole Gentz-Wilkins 
 
 
Events to celebrate and recognize the award winners and honorable mention recipients will be coming this spring.

Brigham McCown named new president of Alyeska Pipeline

Brigham A. McCown will become the next president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company in January 2020. The selection was announced by the TAPS Owners Committee.

McCown is the second company president hired as an Alyeska employee following Vice Admiral Thomas Barrett, USCG (Ret.), who was brought on in January 2011 and is retiring.

McCown brings over three decades of executive management, legal, and operational experience in the infrastructure and transportation industries. He currently serves as chairman and CEO of Nouveau Consulting where he advises on matters pertaining to federal security and safety regulations. He is also chairman and founder of the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure, a non-partisan think tank leveraging innovation to improve infrastructure safety.

McCown has held several posts at the U.S. Department of Transportation, serving as a direct report to both democratic and republican Secretaries of Transportation including service as the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) first deputy administrator. In 2013, he retired from the U.S. Navy after 25 years of combined active and reserve service as a naval officer and naval aviator.

Outgoing president Admiral Tom Barrett, who will work with McCown during a transition period in January, stated, “I have known Brigham for many years and I share Alyeska’s Owners’ confidence in his excellent fit as Alyeska’s next president and in his ability to lead the organization. I am equally confident in the proud and talented TAPS people, whose dedication to safety, protecting our environment, operational excellence, reliability, efficiency and innovative work will carry TAPS operations into the next 40 years and beyond.”

“Brigham brings a deep and varied range of experience in the regulatory realm to Alyeska, including a sharp focus on operations and an unwavering commitment to safety,” said Jerry Frey, president of ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and chair of the TAPS Owners Committee. “We are confident in his leadership skills, which have been proven in many unique arenas, and in his ability to keep Alyeska and TAPS moving forward during this exciting time for Alaska’s oil and gas industry. Brigham has a high level of enthusiasm for working in Alaska, on the iconic and critical infrastructure of TAPS, and with the men and women of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.”

“TAPS Owners and Alyeska leaders are grateful to Tom Barrett for his extraordinary leadership,” Frey said. “In his tenure, he built community partnerships, strengthened Alyeska’s culture, advanced the company’s safety record and expanded the focus on ethics, compliance, diversity and innovation. Tom led a transformative shift in Alyeska’s business and maintenance strategy. His leadership and initiatives will have a lasting impact on the company, on TAPS sustainability, and on Alaska.”

With nine years of service as Alyeska president, Barrett is the longest tenured of any Alyeska CEO/President in the company’s 49-year history. During his time at Alyeska, the organization celebrated its 35th and 40th anniversaries, 17 and 18 billionth barrel moved, increased throughput for the first time since 2002, and numerous safety, environment and compliance honors. Under Barrett, the organization evolved and innovated to successfully tackle numerous operational and external challenges.

TAPS reaches landmark, moves its 18 billionth barrel

The 18 billionth barrel of Alaska North Slope crude started down the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) from Pump Station 1 in Prudhoe Bay at 8 a.m., December 6, 2019.

“This marks another significant operational milestone for TAPS, for Alaska and Alaskans, for the oil and gas industry, and countless individuals whose work carries on the remarkable legacy of this unique infrastructure,” said Tom Barrett, President of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, TAPS’ operator. “This milestone brings justifiable TAPS Pride among the smart, tough people at Alyeska Pipeline and our contractors who run TAPS safely every day.”

The launch of the pipeline transformed Alaska from a frontier state to an economic force. June 20, 1977, marked the startup of TAPS operations, with the first barrel of oil arriving in Valdez on July 28, and the first tanker departing the Valdez Marine Terminal a few days later. TAPS’ billionth barrel arrived on January 22, 1980. The 17 billionth barrel started down TAPS on July 19, 2014. Since startup, North Slope crude transported by TAPS has brought in an estimated $145 billion in revenue to the State of Alaska.

Other recent major operations landmarks include: the 40th anniversary of TAPS operations in 2017; the number of tankers loaded (22,600 through October 2019); and the number of tanker escorts provided by Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (nearly 14,000).

“TAPS workers achieve these milestones with a laser focus on safety and the environment. Our team just marked 26 million hours of work without a serious injury,” said Barrett.

Fishing Vessel Training: By the numbers

Alyeska’s award-winning Vessel of Opportunity Program started in 1990 to ready citizens and fishing industry professionals around Prince William Sound to provide oil spill response support in the unlikely case of an actual incident. Each year, SERVS staff provides program members with Fishing Vessel Training, which includes on-the-ground education and on-the-water training and drills to more than 1,500 crewmembers of approximately 450 vessels from six Prince William Sound ports.
 
“The Vessel of Opportunity program is a side of Alyeska many employees don’t realize exists and are surprised to hear about the countless hours put into the preparation, travel, and training it takes to certify over 1,500 captains and crew in a seven-week period,” said Kate Goudreau, the Vessel of Opportunity Coordinator. “We have an amazing opportunity to interact with Prince William Sound stakeholders and fishermen and it’s truly an inspiration to see so many people working together to ensure we are all constantly prepared to respond to a worst-case scenario.”
 
With this year’s Fishing Vessel Training tour officially wrapping up in Cordova in the first week of October, Goudreau provided an overview of the program and some numbers of this year’s specific training sessions. 
 
When does Fishing Vessel Training take place?
From the end of March through late September/early October. March-May is spring training, September-October is fall training.
 
Where do the trainings take place?
Kodiak, Homer, Seward, Whittier, Cordova and Valdez.
 
How many fishing vessels and crewmembers participate?
Around 450 vessels with more than 1,500 crewmembers
 
How many days of training?
There are 51 days of training overall, and each crew member gets three days of training: two days in the classroom and one day on water. 
 
How many Alyeska/Edison Chouest Offshore/TAPS contractor vessels, equipment and crews are involved?
Alyeska/SERVS staff uses 5-6 crew at each port; Edison Chouest uses roughly six crew (depending if they use the Tug Ross Chouest or the NearShore Support Barge, 500-2), including one specifically for safety; TCC has 13 crew, including one for safety; eight Fishing Vessel Administrators set up in the ports, and countless contractors are involved with the loadout operations (forklifts, flatbed trucks, etc.).
 
What are the largest and smallest fishing vessels involved?
The longest vessel is 88 feet; the smallest, 26.
 
What is the variety of skimmers and boom used in training?
All boom is taught in the classroom setting but calm water boom, intertidal boom and Buster systems are deployed on water. All types of skimmers may be discussed or touched on, but this year had our hands-on coverage with the Micro power pack with the Termite and Crucial skimmers, Helix & Elastic power pack/skimmers, deluge and shore-vac tactics. 
 
In Homer, responders in a wildlife task force practiced catching floating decoy ducks. How many fake ducks were used during that exercise?
8-10.
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