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Tapping out

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline—an economic lifeline for the state and an American oil industry icon—is under threat as output declines

When the last length of steel pipe was laid down in 1977, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (Taps) was a marvel of ingenuity, engineering and ambition, crossing some of the world's most forbidding landscapes to link Alaska's North Slope oilfields to the rest of the world. Today, the pipeline's future-and the state's oil industry-is in serious doubt. Alaska's output is falling relentlessly and the amount of oil flowing through the line is heading towards dangerously low levels. Industry and state officials have long warned about the risks to Taps from falling production, but the threat is more immediate today as low oil prices and shrinking investment dim the outlook for Alaskan output. In Ju

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