Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Pipeline

The Dalton Highway exists because of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Originally mere tourists like myself could not use the road. Whatever you think of the environmental consequences it is an impressive peice of engineering.

It basically conveys crude oil for 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, right across Alaska. That white line down the blue inksplodge is the route.

In a number of places you see it zigzag so it can shrink and grow with the extreme temperatures...

They send pigs down it to clear up blockages and keep it flowing smoothly. No they don't use the pink squealy types down and chop em up for crispy bacon at the far end.

They're more like this...

The pipeline has to endure other hazards, especially with this being America the locals have a habit of shooting at it. Drunken hunters are prone to this. Quite how drunk they are and what they think it is I have no idea.

The crude oil is warm as it flows down the pipe. Consequently they have to be careful that it does not melt the permafrost. when the permafrost melts the ground turns to mud and would no longer support the weight of the pipeline.

It will be interesting to see the effect of global warming on the whole area as it is also the permafrost that keeps the ground wet. If it melted too much the surface water would drain away leaving the ground looking more like the desert it really is.

No comments: