The Arctic Energy Office
Fossil Energy - Trans-Alaska Pipeline System
Without expedited development of Alaska’s untapped North Slope oil, America’s most important pipeline, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), would be shut down. TAPS ships some 18% of U.S. oil production to market, but North Slope output is in decline. Failure to replace that declining production in a timely way would render TAPS uneconomic and cripple America’s ability to recover the slope’s remaining oil resources.
Because of declining North Slope production, the 2 million barrel-per-day capacity TAPS today has a throughput of less than 770,000 barrels per day. It is estimated that the lower limit of effective operation for TAPS is about 200,000-300,000 barrels per day. Accounting for currently producing fields and identified development projects, this minimum rate could be reached as early as 2020. The result would be more than a billion barrels of currently booked oil reserves left stranded. To date, TAPS has delivered more than 15 billion barrels of oil to its terminus at Valdez, AK.
Declining North Slope production—and with it threat of a TAPS shutdown—not only worsens U.S. dependency on oil imported from unstable regions, it threatens the State’s own economic viability. For more than two decades, about 80 percent of Alaska’s revenue has come from oil taxation. One-third of the State’s economic base is oil-related activity.
Maintaining the viability of TAPS and its critical role of providing a means to transport the undeveloped and undiscovered oil resources of the North Slope and adjoining waters requires timely access to and development of the slope’s most promising areas for oil potential.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is shown against the backdrop of the Brooks Range