Alaska Oil

Alaska oil comes from the Prudhoe Bay area in Alaska. It is pumped from the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field through several hundred miles of pipe to Valdez, Alaska. This pipeline is called the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, or TAPS. This pipeline was built because America needed a safe and cost-effective way to transport the oil from Alaska. Drilling for Alaska oil proved to be a daunting task. There were special considerations that had to be overcome.

Some of the major concerns with extracting Alaska oil were the frozen ground, harsh climate, and remoteness. The cold climate resulted in permafrost, which is ground that is at or below the freezing point of water. This type of ground is very hard and would require special drilling bits to be able to penetrate. The permafrost also presented the problem of frozen pipes. Special pipes and insulation methods had to be adopted. The harsh, cold climate made working outdoors potentially dangerous. When the oil was discovered, the oil company needed to determine the best method for transporting the Alaska oil. After a failed attempt at transporting the oil by sea in tanker ship, the company determined that it would be safest to transport the oil by pipeline. This was the motivation for constructing the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.

Another concern was the opposition from the conservationists. People were concerned about how the pipeline would affect the local community of endangered animals and plants, and the effect that the drilling would have on the land. The natives also were opposed to the pipeline, arguing that the land that the government set aside for the drilling was illegally obtained from them. However, after years of court proceedings, the pipeline was completed.

The success of TAPS created a massive influx of wealth for the state of Alaska. The Alaska oil provided a source of tax revenue for the state that after years of TAPS being in operation, Alaska was able to roll back the personal income tax to zero. The state relies on the taxes generated by the pipeline and from the oil companies. TAPS and Alaska oil brought more jobs which increased income levels.

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