The Arctic Sounder

Alaska North Slope oil industry employee dies in workplace incident

A worker was killed at an Alaska oil field over the weekend, the third workplace fatality in the North Slope oil industry in 13 months.

Randy Lytle, 62, was an employee of MagTec Alaska. He died Saturday morning during a snow removal operation at the Milne Point oil field, according to information from a state official and companies familiar with the incident.

A report released by the state about the incident said Lytle was struck and killed by a front-end loader while walking at a job site.

“First responders were immediately called to the scene, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful,” the report said.

A family member declined to comment.

The state opened an investigation the day of the fatality and performed an on-site inspection on Monday, said Dale Williamson, enforcement chief with Alaska Occupational Safety and Health.

Companies involved in operations at the field said they responded quickly.


“We immediately stopped all Milne Point work activity and initiated an investigation,” said Luke Miller, a spokesperson with Hilcorp, the field operator and owner. “MagTec Alaska, CCI Industrial Services and Hilcorp are continuing to work closely with relevant agencies.”

MagTec’s primary business in Prudhoe Bay is drilling support by loading, hauling and dumping drill cuttings in the ground for disposal, MagTec President Ryan Peterkin said.

“Based on MagTec’s initial investigation, neither the employee nor MagTec were at fault for this tragic accident,” Peterkin said.

The companies involved in the incident are cooperating with state and federal agencies, Peterkin said. He said MagTec will provide more details about the incident when the investigations are complete.

“Our support, thoughts and prayers go out to the victim’s family, friends and coworkers while they grieve the loss of their loved one,” Peterkin said.

CCI Industrial Services, which also provides oil field support at Milne Point, said it was cooperating with the investigation.

“We are deeply saddened by what happened at Milne Point, and our prayers are with the family and friends of those affected,” A spokesperson with CCI said in a statement. “The incident occurred during snow removal operations at approximately 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, and it resulted in a fatality of another contractor’s employee. We are cooperating with all appropriate agencies in the investigation of this tragedy.”

In the state report on the incident, called a “fatalgram,” officials recommended that employees wear high-visibility clothing, are adequately trained, and make sure they communicate with equipment operators before crossing their path.

Multiple deaths

Two other workplace deaths occurred at separate locations in the North Slope oil industry last year.

Together, the three deaths represent an unusually high number of fatalities in a relatively short period of time for oil field operations in the region, according to media reports and records from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

They appear to be the first workplace fatalities since December 2018, when a 36-year-old man died at the Milne Point field after a 700-pound section of drilling pipe struck his head. Hilcorp, the field’s operator, and a Hilcorp drilling contractor, each paid about $25,000 in state-assessed fines for that death.

In June last year, a 27-year-old man died at the Northstar oil field after he was struck by a rod that ejected from a wellhead valve, a fatality report from the federal agency shows.

The field is owned and operated by Hilcorp. The man was employed by Halliburton, an energy services company.

The federal workplace safety agency has issued fines against Halliburton totaling about $70,000 for several violations related to the fatality that involved unsafe working conditions, according to the fatality report from the federal agency.

Halliburton is challenging the citations, the report shows.

On the day of the Halliburton worker’s death, employees were put in danger when gear was placed incorrectly in the piston of the valve, according to one violation.

The gear was also “not the equivalent stainless steel hardness as the original equipment manufacturer,” the violation shows.


In April last year, a 23-year-old man died at a shop in Deadhorse, an industrial community supporting the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. He died from head injuries after falling on an icy surface while carrying a pipe over his shoulder, a state notice said last year.

The 23-year-old was employed by Worley Alaska, a construction and oil field service company. He was embedded at Hilcorp and took direction from the oil producer, state inspectors said.

The state investigated his death, and last year warned that employers should use mechanical methods such as a forklift to move materials when possible, and should use surface scarring, traction materials or traction devices to protect against falls.

The investigation was closed in August without a citation, according to a fatality report from the federal workplace safety agency.

Hilcorp Alaska, a top Alaska oil producer, has been repeatedly penalized for operational violations in Alaska. The company became a major player on the North Slope in 2020, taking over management of the giant Prudhoe Bay oil field after it purchased BP’s assets in Alaska for $5.6 billion.

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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

Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.