• Background
  • Map of the pipeline
  • Tapline documents
  • The Sidon terminal
  • The Pipeline
  • The Beirut Office
  • People
  • The Pipeline Periscope
  • The Story of Tapline (film)
  • Other sources

  • The Trans-Arabian Pipeline Company, a joint venture by Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso), Standard Oil of California (Chevron), The Texas Company (Texaco) and Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (Mobil), was a major factor in economic development of Lebanon after independence and especially in the emergence of the south, Tapline was an important industrial adventure in global trade, the petroleum industry and American - Middle East politics.

    The company which started operations in 1950 was the largest oil pipeline of its time, transporting Saudi Arabian oil from the gulf fields to the terminal at Zahrani south of Saida, where it was shipped to the markets of Europe and the eastern United States seaboard. At the peak of its operations Tapline is said to have transported up to 30% of Aramco's production of Saudi Arabian crude*.

    The pipeline was originally planned to run from Saudi Arabia's Abqaiq oil fields to the port of Haifa in Palestine where there already was a modest terminal facility for a pipeline from the Kirkuk oil fields in Iraq. The conflict between the British Mandate and the Israeli independence movement had the Tapline company serveying alternate routes already in 1946. These routes were all aimed at circumventing Palestine. "Trans-Jordan" appeared also at the time to be a country to be avoided. The final route went through Jordan, over the Golan Heights in Syria - and not without some political consequences - to end at Sidon in Lebanon.

    Syrian parliamentary objections necessitated the CIA-aided 1949 coup in order to secure "right of way" over the Golan Heights. The end of pipeline operations were also instigated by sabotage and related problems with the portion passing over the Heights in the climate of political turmoil after the 1967 occupation by Israel. All oil transportation in the western (Syrian and Lebanese) portions of the line ceased in 1976. That portion of the line was evacuated of all crude oil and the installations in Lebanon were handed over to the Lebanese government in 1983. The Sidon terminal is now the site of a large, mordern electrical power station and a modest petroleum importing terminal.

    ARAMCO - The Arabian American Oil Company which has had a virtual monopoly on exploration and production of crude oil in Saudi Arabia since the 1930's.