Tapline Oil Pipeline

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The Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline), opened in 1950, is a thirty-inch pipeline running from the Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf through Jordan, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea. Tapline was the largest facility of its kind in the world until the Trans-Alaska pipeline was competed 27 years later.[1]

The construction of the pipeline saved around 3,200 kilometers of sea travel and the transit fees of the Suez Canal.[2] Various legs were shut between 1976 to 1990 and Saudi Arabia subsequently exported most of its crude on tankers passing through the Strait of Hormuz.[3]


In the early 1950s, when Syria earned greater revenues as a transit country than from domestic oil production, the Tapline pipeline was completed, running from the oil fields in Saudi Arabia across Jordan and the south-west corner of Syria to a sea terminal on the Lebanese coast.[4]

The pipeline was originally intended to terminate at the port of Haifa, then part of Palestine and now a major Israeli port. However the establishment of the state of Israle resulted in a diversion to Sidon, Lebanon.[5]

The Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) selected California-based contractor Bechtel International to construct the pipeline. The company employed 20,000 Arab labourers to lay 265,000 tons of steel pipe, and worked non-stop for two years to complete the project.[6]

Syria earned small amounts of revenue from transit fees (around US $2.8 million in the 1970s) for oil running along Tapline. However interruptions in pipeline operations, escalating transit fees and the reopening of the Suez Canal in June 1975 reduced use of the pipeline at this time.[4]


Initial capacity along Tapline was 320,000 barrels per day (bpd), but capacity was expanded, eventually handling 480,000 bpd in the mid-1970s.[2]


  1. Pipeline Politics: America, TAPLINE, and the ArabsThe Business History Review, 1990.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Country Studies: Saudi ArabiaUS Library of Congress, retrieved 13 March 2012.
  3. Factbox: Middle East oil, gas shipping risks, alternative routesReuters, 9 January 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Country Studies: SyriaUS Library of Congress, retrieved 13 March 2012.
  5. Present (1998) United State government policy as it realtes to Tapline.Al Mashriq, 1998.
  6. Pipeline Politics: America, TAPLINE, and the ArabsThe Business History Review, 1990.

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