And then there were three.
The two minority owners of the trans-Alaska pipeline won state approval to cease their operations on the trans-Alaska pipeline as of today, pending the transfer of their interests to BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.
Koch Alaska Pipeline Co., which owns 3.0845 percent of the pipeline, and Unocal, which owns 1.36 percent, are negotiating with the three major owners to sell their pieces of the pipe.
The companies said details are yet to be worked out on the sale. The Regulatory Commission of Alaska signed off on the withdrawal Friday.
A process to sell their shares is outlined in the pipeline owners' agreement, the latest edition of which expires today. Unocal and Koch, which owns the Flint Hills refinery in North Pole, gave notice to the other owners in the spring.
They said BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil would each "control a greater percentage of TAPS pipeline assets and terminal tankage," when the deal is done.
The North Pole refinery will continue to get oil delivered via the trans-Alaska pipeline. The two minority owners said they were doing this for reasons of corporate strategy.
The pipeline began operations in 1977 with seven owner companies. led by BP, ARCO and Exxon, owners of 90 percent of the operation. The balance was owned by Mobil, Amerada Hess, Phillips and Unocal.
The first tanker left Valdez on Aug. 1, 1977.
Today BP has about 47 percent of TAPS, while ConocoPhillips has about 29 percent and ExxonMobil has about 20 percent.