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Trans-Alaska oil pipeline to shut down for fourth time this summer

Alaska Dispatch
State of Alaska photo

This weekend, the trans-Alaska pipeline will be shutting down for about 18 hours to allow for maintenance work, Reuters reports.

The shutdown will allow for mainline valve testing; this is the fourth scheduled shutdown of the summer, with a final one scheduled on Aug. 5.

In past years, the pipeline shut down for 36 hours at a time, but this year Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. opted for shorter, and more frequent, shutdowns. The shutdown is being coordinated with oil producers, so a slowdown of crude production will also occur during that time.

Alyeska, owned by a consortium of oil companies operating in Alaska, is also set for an ownership change soon. On August 1, minority owners Koch Industries and Chevron, who together account for 4.5 percent of Alyeska's ownership, will no longer be shipping oil through the pipeline. The majority owners will choose what to do with the outstanding shares, a spokesperson said.

The trans-Alaska pipeline snakes across 800 miles of Alaska, pumping crude oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. This year is the pipeline’s 35th anniversary; over 16.5 billion barrels of oil have traveled through it thus far.

Oil production peaked in 1988, with 2.1 million barrels per day, whereas in 2011 it averaged 590,000 barrels per day. In the first half of 2012, production averaged 582,353 barrels a day.

Read more pipeline facts, here, and read more from Reuters, here.