FAIRBANKS — After focusing for years on adding heat to the chilly contents of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, officials are planning to study a new approach to boosting line performance — decreasing the amount of water inside.
With North Slope oil production in a 25-year-long decline, the pipeline is becoming more vulnerable to problems as the flow of crude decreases. A barrel of oil took just four days to travel the length of the 800-mile line in 1988, but now takes 18 days. Because of the slower flow rate, the temperature of oil can sometimes dip down to 32 degrees during its journey to Valdez.
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