Alyeska was founded in 1970 to design and construct the pipeline to transport oil from the fields in northern Alaska where oil was discovered in 1968. It was built between March 1975 and June 1977, running from the North Slope fields at Prudhoe Bay to the Marine Terminal at Valdez on Prince William Sound. Aleyska then went on to operate and maintain TAPS. The first oil flowed into the pipeline on June 20, 1977 and the first tanker load departed from Valdez on August 1, 1977.
The major owner of the company is BP with 50.01% of the shares. The other group members are Phillips Transportation (23.7%), Exxon Mobil (20.34%), Williams Alaska Pipeline Company (3.08%), Amerada Hess (1.5%) and Unocal (1.36%). The government responsibility in regulating TAPS is managed through the Joint Pipeline Office (JPO), a consortium of thirteen federal and state agencies under the Department of the Interior.
The company is named after a Aleut word meaning "mainland". It is headquartered in Anchorage and has around 900 employees.
The thirty-year TAPS lease is due to expire in 2004. Alyeska applied for a renewal of the right of way lease in 2001 and there are not expected to be any problems with the state or federal agencies.