One of Cook Inlet's biggest oil and gas producers -- Chevron -- said Tuesday that it will try to sell all of its assets in the Inlet.
The decision comes as production from Cook Inlet oil and gas fields is declining -- typically, a period when big energy companies lose interest in their investments and smaller operators jump in.
Chevron said the company will offer for sale its interest in several offshore and land-based oil and gas fields, 10 offshore rigs and two gas tank farms. The company also plans to sell its interest in the companies that operate two regional pipelines.
John Zager, the company's Alaska general manager, said Chevron will continue to focus on safe, reliable operations while it searches for a buyer who will "further develop (the assets') potential."
Chevron said it plans to sell its properties as a single package and its marketing effort will begin soon.
Chevron produces roughly 4,000 barrels of oil and 90 million cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Inlet. The company has about 450 employees and contractors in Alaska.
"If they do end up finding a buyer, I hope those individuals remain committed to getting oil and gas out of the Inlet. We rely on that," said Jason Brune, executive director of the Resource Development Council of Alaska, an industry trade group.
Though geologists believe the Inlet still contains large amounts of oil and natural gas, exploration and production have declined to the point that Southcentral utilities could begin importing natural gas from overseas or the Lower 48 within a few years.
Brune said Chevron has been a good corporate neighbor in the Inlet and has funded crucial research on the Inlet's beluga whale population, recently listed as an endangered species.
But Chevron has been buffeted by some unpleasant events over the last several years. The company had to shut down some of its production due to the danger posed by the Redoubt Volcano eruptions in late 2008. The company laid off workers due to the decreased activity.
In January, federal investigators searched several of Chevron's Cook Inlet properties in a raid the company said was related to concerns about air pollution. No charges have been filed against the company so far.
Chevron's plan to sell its Cook Inlet assets does not affect its North Slope properties. For example, Chevron owns stakes in the Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk River oil fields as well as the trans-Alaska pipeline.
Find Elizabeth Bluemink online at adn.com/contact/ebluemink or call 257-4317.
By ELIZABETH BLUEMINK