Trans Alaska Pipeline
Built over, under, and through some of the harshest climates on Earth, the Trans Alaska Pipeline is evidence of man's desire to overcome natural obstacles in pursuit of his own interests. The structure runs 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean to Prince William Sound in the Pacific Ocean's Gulf of Alaska. It was built by a consortium of petroleum companies in order to tap the riches of the state's North Slope. Because of permafrost, much of the pipeline -- about 420 miles of it -- runs above ground, supported by a collection of 78,000 supports. The above-ground sections are built along a zig-zag path designed to minimize the effects of a strong earthquake, and temperature fluctuations. There are some areas where it was buried, including mountain crossings, and four miles of the pipeline that is actually refrigerated underground. Some of those underground segments are installed where the pipeline crosses rivers and streams. There are more than 800 such crossings, and some are buried beneath the river bed, while others soar above the water on massive suspension bridges. Today the pipeline is managed by Alyeska Pipeline Services Company. It transmits 2,136,000 barrels of oil per day and holds 9,065,065 barrels of oil at any one time.
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