Written and directed by Mark Davis, “The Alaska Pipeline” is an episode of the documentary series American Experience. First televised in 2006, the film traces the history of the pipeline brought about by the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay by the Atlantic Richfield prospectors in 1968. This was the moment when they found the largest oil field in North America.
This opportunity however was barred by various challenges. For one, it would take about 9 years for the oil to be transported out of Alaska. There is also the concern about the cost as they would need to shell out a billion dollars and employ at least 78,000 people. The biggest challenge is the need to build 800 miles of steel pipe that will traverse across the pristine part of America.
In order to build and operate the pipeline, the oil companies that invested in the Prudhoe Bay established a company named Alyeska. However, the native Alaskans and environmentalists joined together to fight against the laying of the pipes. They filed their complaints in the federal court asking the government to disapprove the pipeline of Alyeska.