Four leading oil companies have joined with Trans Mountain Oil PipeLine Company and Interprovincial PipeLine Company in forming MACKENZIE VALLEY PIPELINE RESEARCH LIMITED, it was announced today. The purpose of the new company is to determine the technological and economic feasibility of constructing a 48-inch diameter crude oil pipe line from the North Slope of Alaska through the Yukon and Northwest Territories, generally paralleling the Mackenzie River, to Edmonton where it would connect with the existing Trans Mountain and Interprovincial pipe line systems. (Refer adjoining map).
The four oil companies are: IMPERIAL OIL LIMITED, GULF OIL CANADA LIMITED. SHELL CANADA LIMITED and ATLANTIC RICHFIELD COMPANY.
Other major oil companies have indicated interest in the research project.
The pipeline under study would be in excess of 1,600 miles in length and would traverse several hundred miles of permafrost. The major portion of the research will be carried out by CANADIAN BECHTEL LIMITED and will include a 4,000-foot test section of large diameter pipe in the most difficult of the permafrost near the mouth of the Mackenzie River. Various methods of constructing an oil pipe line through permafrost will be used on this test section and oil will be circulated through it for several months to determine, among other things, the effect of heat transfer on the permafrost.
The study will include a thorough research of other major potential problems associated with constructing and operating an oil pipe line in the Arctic, such as: the ecology and conservation of the fragile environment; selection of the best route, the hydrology of the many streams and rivers that would have to be crossed; logistics of constructing and maintaining such a line under Arctic conditions; personnel resources; housing of personnel and equipment; pumping station design and construction; support facilities and communication systems; and pumping characteristics of the crude oil to be transported, including potential shutdown and startup problems in extreme temperatures.
The results of the study, which is expected to cost about $1,500,000, should be available by the end of 1969.