Murkowski's Message: Brigham McCown interview
Senator Lisa Murkowski, chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, recently recorded a new episode of her podcast, featuring Brigham McCown, president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. They discussed how the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) is navigating current conditions, some highlights of its over 40 years of serving Alaska, recent changes in leadership on the North Slope, Alyeska's safety culture, and more. Click here or on the image to the right to listen.
Alyeska earns Coast Guard award for environmental excellence
The United States Coast Guard has announced that Alyeska earned a gold-level William A. Benkert Award for Environmental Excellence. This is the premiere award presented by the Coast Guard that honors members of the marine industry for excellence in areas of marine safety and environmental protection.
The program notes, “Gold level recipients have expended extraordinary effort into protecting the environment and it shows. This biennial award recognizes organizations for outstanding achievements in all aspects of marine environment protection.”
The award specifically reviewed Alyeska’s marine safety and environmental performance between 2018-2019 and included highlights such as the marine services transition, the organization’s safety culture and performance, environmental monitoring, community partnerships and philanthropy programs. Though the nomination was focused on the Valdez Marine Terminal and Prince William Sound, work around TAPS – like the 2019 Minton Creek exercise and Alyeska’s ongoing work with University Alaska Fairbanks on unmanned aerial vehicles – was also recognized.
“This award is an awesome acknowledgement of our employees and their commitment to protecting the precious environment we call home,” said Betsy Haines, Alyeska Senior Vice President, Operations & Maintenance. “We’re recognized, in part, for our work in prevention, and also our safe and effective responses when a bad day occurs.”
The Benkert Award was created to recognize outstanding achievements in marine environmental protection that go beyond mere compliance with industrial and regulatory standards. It is intended to be a creative exchange of ideas and innovations to everyone's benefit. It serves as a map for assessing environmental management strengths and weaknesses while stressing a continual improvement.
This environmental award is named for Rear Admiral William M. Benkert (1923-1989), who served at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, DC as Chief of the Office of Marine Environment and Systems from 1972 until 1974, and as Chief of the Office of Merchant Marine Safety from 1974 until 1978. He is fondly remembered as the father of the Coast Guard's Marine Environmental Protection Program.
TAPS turns 44
A recent article in Alaska Business Monthly, "TAPS turns 44," touches on the past, present and future of the pipeline, as well as the safety focus, maintenance work, operations approach and talented people that keep it running. Click here to read the article.
Valdez Marine Terminal spill updates
Response and recovery work on the water and on the ground continue in response to the spill at the Valdez Marine Terminal. Follow the ongoing efforts and subscribe for updates at www.alyeskaresponds.com.
TAPS update from Alyeska President Brigham McCown
Click here or on the image above to view a video from Alyeska President Brigham McCown, who provides an update on the organization's response to COVID-19, our pipeline people, and work on TAPS. #TAPSPride
Message to stakeholders, March 28
March 28, 2020
Dear community member,
I wanted to update you on Alyeska’s measures to protect against COVID-19 (coronavirus) and any impacts on the continued operations of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). Alaskans count on Alyeska and TAPS to deliver North Slope crude safely and reliably every day. Pipelines are the very lifeblood of our economy. Like other companies designated critical infrastructure, our workforce is working to keep the nation, state, and the communities they live and work in both healthy and functioning. As an organization and as individuals, we know the importance of our role as a steadfast and robust community partner in all conditions, as we have been for more than 42 years.
Alyeska continues to proactively apply guidance from our medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Whether working from home or transiting in the state or local communities, we have implemented best practices in order to protect our workforce as well as those around them. These steps include hygiene protocols, self-monitoring for illness, maintaining social distancing, eliminating most travel, and implementing telework wherever possible because we take our responsibilities seriously. Alyeska has also taken these additional steps to limit the spread of the virus:
Approximately 500 Alyeska/TAPS office staff members (including dozens in Valdez) are working remotely, expanding the organization’s commitment to the safety of all workers by supporting recommended social distancing practices.
We have implemented screening for operation critical areas around TAPS including pump stations, our Operations Control Center, and the Valdez Marine Terminal. All employees are expected to self-screen and will also be screened daily by qualified personnel.
We submitted a travel plan to the State of Alaska that outlines our protocols for quarantining workers who live outside the state before returning for work. Employees transiting within the state for essential work onsite are following similar protocols to those traveling from out of state.
Individuals who live in or have recently visited or had family members visit restricted countries and states, as defined by Alyeska’s Medical Director using CDC data, have been asked to self-isolate and work remotely for 14 days. We have several employees and contractors meeting this commitment today.
We have identified and secured isolation facilities and materials along TAPS should any of our workforce become ill.
We are reducing our field activities and have been restricting non-essential travel along the TAPS route from Pump Station 1 to Valdez for more than 10 days.
All contractors are also expected to work with their employees to meet these same high standards.
- We continue to coordinate with government and business industry partners to ensure we have a coordinated and unified approach.
This situation is fluid, and Alyeska continues seeking out knowledge and will continue to implement best practices to keep our employees, their families, and Alaskans safe. In this dynamic time, we are continually reviewing and updating measures to protect workers’ health and continue the important work of operating TAPS.
We are here to answer questions and concerns you may have. We are all in this together, and we need each other’s support so please stay in touch and let us know how we are doing,
Brigham A. McCown
#TAPSPride shines during challenging times
Alaska's pipeline people continue their routine of safe operations of TAPS 24/7, even as the world is changing so fast around us. They are working in remote areas like pump stations and outside along the rugged 800-mile TAPS route. Others are hunkering down and working remotely away from urban offices. Some continue working in facilities and office settings due to their unique roles while practicing social distancing. All Alyeska employees remain focused on the most important things: the health and safety of our people and the reliable operation of TAPS. Like everyone, our people have faced major change, challenges and distractions, but our culture of preparedness and safety has helped us move forward together. Everyone who works on TAPS appreciates the importance of their work and what the pipeline's operations means to our communities and our fellow Alaskans, to Alaska's economy, to our nation's energy independence. We call that #TAPSPride.
Going the extra mile: 2020 Atigun Awards recipients
Brigham McCown named new president of Alyeska Pipeline
Brigham A. McCown will become the next president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company in January 2020. The selection was announced by the TAPS Owners Committee.
McCown is the second company president hired as an Alyeska employee following Vice Admiral Thomas Barrett, USCG (Ret.), who was brought on in January 2011 and is retiring.
McCown brings over three decades of executive management, legal, and operational experience in the infrastructure and transportation industries. He currently serves as chairman and CEO of Nouveau Consulting where he advises on matters pertaining to federal security and safety regulations. He is also chairman and founder of the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure, a non-partisan think tank leveraging innovation to improve infrastructure safety.
McCown has held several posts at the U.S. Department of Transportation, serving as a direct report to both democratic and republican Secretaries of Transportation including service as the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) first deputy administrator. In 2013, he retired from the U.S. Navy after 25 years of combined active and reserve service as a naval officer and naval aviator.
Outgoing president Admiral Tom Barrett, who will work with McCown during a transition period in January, stated, “I have known Brigham for many years and I share Alyeska’s Owners’ confidence in his excellent fit as Alyeska’s next president and in his ability to lead the organization. I am equally confident in the proud and talented TAPS people, whose dedication to safety, protecting our environment, operational excellence, reliability, efficiency and innovative work will carry TAPS operations into the next 40 years and beyond.”
“Brigham brings a deep and varied range of experience in the regulatory realm to Alyeska, including a sharp focus on operations and an unwavering commitment to safety,” said Jerry Frey, president of ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and chair of the TAPS Owners Committee. “We are confident in his leadership skills, which have been proven in many unique arenas, and in his ability to keep Alyeska and TAPS moving forward during this exciting time for Alaska’s oil and gas industry. Brigham has a high level of enthusiasm for working in Alaska, on the iconic and critical infrastructure of TAPS, and with the men and women of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.”
“TAPS Owners and Alyeska leaders are grateful to Tom Barrett for his extraordinary leadership,” Frey said. “In his tenure, he built community partnerships, strengthened Alyeska’s culture, advanced the company’s safety record and expanded the focus on ethics, compliance, diversity and innovation. Tom led a transformative shift in Alyeska’s business and maintenance strategy. His leadership and initiatives will have a lasting impact on the company, on TAPS sustainability, and on Alaska.”
With nine years of service as Alyeska president, Barrett is the longest tenured of any Alyeska CEO/President in the company’s 49-year history. During his time at Alyeska, the organization celebrated its 35th and 40th anniversaries, 17 and 18 billionth barrel moved, increased throughput for the first time since 2002, and numerous safety, environment and compliance honors. Under Barrett, the organization evolved and innovated to successfully tackle numerous operational and external challenges.
TAPS reaches landmark, moves its 18 billionth barrel
The 18 billionth barrel of Alaska North Slope crude started down the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) from Pump Station 1 in Prudhoe Bay at 8 a.m., December 6, 2019.
“This marks another significant operational milestone for TAPS, for Alaska and Alaskans, for the oil and gas industry, and countless individuals whose work carries on the remarkable legacy of this unique infrastructure,” said Tom Barrett, President of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, TAPS’ operator. “This milestone brings justifiable TAPS Pride among the smart, tough people at Alyeska Pipeline and our contractors who run TAPS safely every day.”
The launch of the pipeline transformed Alaska from a frontier state to an economic force. June 20, 1977, marked the startup of TAPS operations, with the first barrel of oil arriving in Valdez on July 28, and the first tanker departing the Valdez Marine Terminal a few days later. TAPS’ billionth barrel arrived on January 22, 1980. The 17 billionth barrel started down TAPS on July 19, 2014. Since startup, North Slope crude transported by TAPS has brought in an estimated $145 billion in revenue to the State of Alaska.
Other recent major operations landmarks include: the 40th anniversary of TAPS operations in 2017; the number of tankers loaded (22,600 through October 2019); and the number of tanker escorts provided by Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (nearly 14,000).
“TAPS workers achieve these milestones with a laser focus on safety and the environment. Our team just marked 26 million hours of work without a serious injury,” said Barrett.