Pump Station No. 9-Trans-Alaska Pipeline


The $8-billion Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, one of history's most difficult engineering feats, was the largest private construction project of its time. Built in 1975-77, the 800-mile, 4-foot-diameter, zigzagging pipeline carries crude oil from 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle down to the terminal at Valdez, the nearest ice-free port. About half of the pipeline is above ground as it crosses three mountain ranges, 34 major waterways, and some 800 small streams. Inside Pump Station No. 9, three pumps put through about 1.2 million barrels of North Slope oil a day. Traveling at 5.4 mph, the oil takes 6.2 days to traverse the pipeline.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Chemical, Civil, Environmental
Topic(s):Energy
Grade:6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:Moving oil that comes out of the ground at 155-180 degrees Fahrenheit presented a special challenge to pipeline designers and engineers. Most pipeline systems of the time were buried, but, in Alaska, much of the land is underlaid by permafrost. To keep the permafrost from melting, roughly half of the pipeline is elevated on special supports.