Alaska News

Police: ‘Equipment accident’ killed 36-year-old Alaska oil field worker

The North Slope Borough Police Department on Thursday released the name of the 36-year-old man who died last week at a North Slope oil field, and said a preliminary investigation has determined an “equipment accident" was to blame.

Shawn Huber was pronounced dead at 3:40 a.m. Friday after the incident at the Milne Point oil field, the agency said. His death is the first workplace fatality on North Slope oil fields since 2012, according to the state Labor Department.

Huber worked for Kuukpik Drilling, a contractor for Hilcorp Alaska, the field’s operator.

The companies have declined to provide details of what happened, citing an ongoing investigation by regulatory agencies and the companies.

Kuukpik Drilling on Thursday afternoon confirmed Huber had died, after previously not releasing a name. The company said Huber worked as a floorhand. He’s been with the company since July 2016, also serving as driller and toolpusher.

“Given the ongoing investigation, that is all is all I’m at liberty to confirm right now,” said Kenny Overvold, Kuukpik Drilling general manager.

Huber listed his address in Wasilla, public records show.

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The chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Hollis French, said Tuesday that a Hilcorp executive reported that the death involved a “pipe mishandling incident," with the worker struck by heavy drilling pipe.

A Gofundme page in Huber’s name has raised more than $100,000 to help cover funeral and other family expenses. It says Huber leaves behind a wife and three children.

Huber died at the Innovation 1 drill rig, Jeffrey Brown, borough police chief, said by email.

Rescue workers responded to a report of an injured and unresponsive worker but could not revive Huber. “The preliminary investigation shows the death is attributed to an equipment accident,” Brown said.

The police department’s investigation remains open as it awaits autopsy results from the state medical examiner, Brown said.

“The North Slope Borough Police Department extends its condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Huber,” he said.

The Alaska Occupational Safety and Health office is also investigating the incident. The AOGCC will review details of the investigation.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or