GVEA's Oil Pipeline
SAFETY & EMERGENCY INFORMATION
(download the brochure)
GVEA's pipeline, located in North Pole, travels in a 4.6-mile loop from the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) to the Flint Hills Refinery and Petro Star Refineries. A 14" pipe carries crude oil from the TAPS to the refineries while a 16" pipe carries residual oil back to the TAPS. A considerable portion, approximately 20-25 percent, of the total TAPS volume moves through GVEA's pipeline system.
The pipeline route travels west from the North Pole Metering Station, under Seavy Drive and traverses Seavy Subdivision. Then it crosses the Richardson Highway and frontage roads, travels under a large water-filled gravel pit, along the Chena Slough and Buzby Road, three seasonal sloughs, the Alaska Railroad, the Old Richardson Highway and H&H Lane. It terminates at GVEA's pigging facilities on H&H Lane, where the refineries connect to GVEA's pipeline system.
There are two metering stations, one is owned by the Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. and is located where GVEA's system connects to the TAPS and the second is located near the refineries. These facilities measure the volume and consistency of crude flowing out of the TAPS and the volume and quality of residual flowing back into the TAPS.
History of the pipeline
In 1974 the co-op began plans for this pipeline in order to guarantee a steady supply of fuel for its North Pole Power Plant. The pipeline system went on line in 1979. Initially, it consisted of a 6" crude line from the TAPS and a 8" residual line.
At that time, there was only one small refinery connected to the pipeline system, which was owned by Earth Resources Company of Alaska. This refinery was later purchased by MAPCO, then Williams Energy, and most recently by Flint Hills Refinery. Less than a decade after GVEA's pipeline had been in service, there was need for expansion.
In 1985 MAPCO, now Flint Hills, purchased the existing refinery and Petro Star announced plans to construct a refinery in North Pole. To serve both refineries, GVEA needed to increase pipeline capacity. A new 14" crude pipeline was installed and both the original 6" and 8" pipelines were then placed into residual service.
By 1995, expansion was once again necessary. Crude flow was maximized and there could be no further increases in flow without adding another connection into the TAPS. While expansion plans were underway, Alyeska announced plans to close Pump 8. Pumps regulate the flow of crude traveling through the pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. With Pump Station 8 closed, a higher flow rate would result, which would decrease the amount of crude that could be extracted. This would have meant that the refineries would have had access to only 60 percent of their current supply. To continue maintaining the necessary flow rate to the refineries, GVEA needed a new pipeline.
In just thirteen weeks, GVEA designed and constructed a new 16" residual line. This was an $8.5 million investment and a great undertaking, considering ordering time, weather and construction timelines. Shortly after, Alyeska began construction on a new metering station, an upgrade that was necessary to meet the demands of the new pipeline.
Prepared for the future
GVEA's original 6" and 8" lines were both decommissioned from service in 1997. These pipes are now used as conduit for a fiber optic connection, which allows Golden Valley to remotely operate its North Pole Power Plant and transfers pipeline leak-detection data to GVEA personnel in Fairbanks. The latest expansion of the co-op's pipeline will allow for growth well into the future.