Alaska’s Oil Pipeline Marks 35 Years

The oil pipeline that stretches 800 miles across the Alaska landscape is celebrating a milestone.

The trans-Alaska oil pipeline on Wednesday marked 35 years in production with more than 16.5 billion barrels of oil loaded into the pipeline at Prudhoe Bay for delivery to Valdez, where it is loaded into tankers destined for the West Coast.

Oil was loaded into the pipeline for the first time on June 20, 1977. It arrived in Valdez 38 days later.

The amount of oil flowing through the pipeline is declining as oil reserves on the North Slope are drawn down. Oil through-put peaked at 2.1 million barrels a day in 1988. It averaged about 590,000 barrels a day last year.

The pipeline now accounts for 11 percent of U.S. domestic oil supply.