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Alaskan grit, determination and pride

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About Us

Sam Swatzell / SERVS Operations Supervisor

Describe the work you do for Alyeska? As Interim Operations Supervisor for the Ship Escort Response Vessel System (SERVS), our mission is to transport oil safely from the Valdez Marine Terminal to 17 miles past Hinchinbrook in Prince William Sound. It’s an extension of the pipeline to me. I supervise eight response coordinators, which are responsible for prevention and the open water response arena. Currently, if there was an event I would be slotted in the group supervisor role. I am taking courses in order to participate in the Incident Management Team (IMT).

What do you like most about working for Alyeska? I like working at SERVS because of the marine environment. Before I worked for Alyeska, I was a mariner for many years. I was raised in Homer, Alaska and commercial fished for almost 20 years. I mainly fished Cook Inlet salmon, and halibut and crab in the Bering Sea. If you ever get the chance to eat Blue King Crab from the Bering Sea take it. It is excellent! I also enjoy working with all the people in Alyeska, contractors and the folks on the vessels.

Looking back at 2009, what changes did you make regarding safety? The Operations team made a commitment to get out in the field more. We made a pledge to listen to any concerns the employees may have about safety, ask how the work is going and take the opportunity to conduct a Loss Prevention Observation (LPO).

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? During the winter I enjoy downhill skiing and in the summer, I ride my motorcycle with my wife Donnely. I care about Alaska and its environment. My personal eco-system is the water and the coastline of Alaska – where I work and live.

Larry Shier / Pipeline Civil Maintenance Coordinator

Describe the work you do for Alyeska: I currently work at the Yukon Response Base as a Pipeline Civil Maintenance Coordinator. I’m based here with three other employees who support our baseline maintenance work, and an equipment mechanic. Part of our responsibilities includes supporting the oil spill response efforts and assisting with the maintenance of the pipeline Right-of-Way. Right-of-Way maintenance entails monitoring the pipeline for any negative impact by the forces of nature and ensuring that critical components can be accessed for emergency response and preventive maintenance.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? I like all types of boats and being on the water. My avocation is a little limited in interior Alaska with only four months of open water, but I’m able to make up for it because I conduct boat operations and oil spill response training and drills on the Yukon River as part of my job.

What do you envision as the most challenging aspects of operating TAPS in the next three to five years? The most challenging aspect will be working through and implementing solutions to address the challenges of low and declining pipeline throughput. The next most challenging thing to address is attracting and retaining new employees.

What do you enjoy most about working for Alyeska? I really appreciate that opportunities for taking on challenges and career advancement still exist at Alyeska if you choose to channel your energies in that direction. This is as true today as it was when I came to work for the Marine Department in June 1977. All TAPS employees are continually solicited to provide input and allowed to be involved in initiatives that make TAPS a viable concern well into the future.

Holly Schoenborn / Pipeline Advisor

Describe your work history with Alyeska: I started work as a Pipeline technician on July 14, 1980. I was one of approximately 10 female technicians in a workforce of over 400 technicians. It was, to say the least, intimidating at times. Most of my career has been spent in pipeline operations: 9 years as a technician, 8 years as a Pump Station Supervisor, and presently 9 years as Pipeline Advisor. Between 1997-2002., I moved into the Employee Concerns Program. This gave me and in-depth view of all the departments in the company and how they functioned (or should function).

Describe the work you currently do for Alyeska: Right now, I work for Senior Pipeline Director John Baldridge as a Pipeline Advisor. Everyone wants to know what an advisor does, but I’m afraid if people knew, they would want my job! Seriously, I have one of the best jobs in the company acting as a consultant to the Pipeline Director on an ever-changing variety of topics. I also advise and support the O&M Supervisors and the Area Managers when asked. I usually work the “people related issues” ranging from policies to hiring and other duties as assigned. The “duties as assigned” makes the job interesting, challenging and always changing. The trick is to give good advice by drawing on the experiences, skill sets, and networks I have established over the years.

Can you describe in 1-2 sentences a particularly memorable incident that occurred during your years with Alyeska? Touring the pipeline and terminal with the new BFEP hires -- nicknamed the “techlings” because they are training to become technicians -- has been a great experience. I enjoy their enthusiasm, eagerness to learn, and their questions, all of which ultimately cause me to learn more about my work environment and to appreciate it.

What do you enjoy doing outside work? This time of year I want to plant something! I love to garden, read, do home improvement projects and spend time at my cabin.

What do you enjoy most about working for Alyeska? It is the people. In the past 30 years I have met some incredible characters and have made some lasting friendships.

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