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Trans Alaska Pipeline System to benefit from unmanned aircraft pilot programme

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World Pipelines,

US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao yesterday announced that the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) will be part of the USDOT Unmanned Aircraft System integration pilot programme. UAF is partnering with Alyeska Pipeline Service Company to test the use of UAS out of the pilot’s line of sight in the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) corridor.

“Using unmanned aircraft on TAPS provides tremendous safety and pipeline integrity benefits,” said Jacques Cloutier, Civil Survey Support Engineer and liaison to the UAF pilot project. “If we can fly UAS out of line-of-sight, we will improve our surveillance and more rapidly gather data on the health of the pipeline system.” UAS surveillance also lowers the safety risk for pipeline workers; data collected by unmanned aircraft reduces the need to deploy people by helicopter or other means when weather conditions are poor.

“We look forward to working with UAF Alaska Center for Unmanned Aerial System Integration (ACUASI) to expand the use of this important technology in our industry and others,” said Alyeska President Tom Barrett. “I applaud Jacques for bringing his expertise to this partnership. He is an excellent example of the commitment to innovation displayed across the pipeline system.”

Alyeska currently uses UAS within visual line of sight to inspect equipment that is difficult to access, such as 100 ft tall tank vapour flare tips, and mapping gravel pits. The company’s partnership with the ACUASI programme dates to 2014.

About Alyeska Pipeline

For 38 years, Alyeska has operated the 800 mile TAPS, safely moving oil from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope of Alaska south to the Port of Valdez, the northernmost ice-free port in the US. The pipeline traverses three mountain ranges, permafrost regions and 34 major rivers and streams. Alyeska personnel work in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Valdez and at pump stations and response facilities all along the pipeline. They also operate the Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (SERVS) for Prince William Sound. Alyeska was created to construct, operate and maintain TAPS for owner companies which today are BP Pipelines (Alaska), ConocoPhillips Transportation Alaska, ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and Unocal Pipeline Company.

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