The news Tuesday that BP is selling its Alaska assets to Hilcorp in a $5.6 billion deal marks the latest development for a company that has been involved in the Alaska oil business, sometimes controversially, as long as Alaska has been a state.
Here’s a timeline of the Alaska histories of BP and Hilcorp:
1959: BP begins working in Alaska, the same year as statehood
1968: BP drills the confirmation well at the Prudhoe Bay oil field, the most prolific field in North America.
1975: BP begins helping build the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline.
1977: Prudhoe Bay production begins, with BP as operator for the western portion.
1986: BP joins a partnership to drill the only well ever sunk in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska. The results remain a mystery in 2019 as the federal government moves to allow drilling there.
1988: North Slope oil production, fed significantly by Prudhoe Bay, has its top year at 2 million barrels of oil daily.
2000: BP becomes the sole operator at Prudhoe Bay, after BP acquires ARCO.
2006: More than 200,000 gallons of oil spills onto the tundra from a corroded pipe at Prudhoe Bay, the biggest spill recorded on Alaska’s North Slope. BP then discovers a smaller leak from a second line, leading to a Prudhoe Bay shutdown for repairs. BP pled guilty in 2007 to negligently discharging oil. The company paid millions of dollars in fines and made improvements to the pipelines and monitoring systems.
2014: BP sells two North Slope fields to Hilcorp Alaska, and partial stakes in two other fields.
2017: BP sells its 14-floor Anchorage building to a subsidiary of Oak Street Real Estate Capital, a private equity firm in Chicago, which leases the building back to BP.
2018: In an international swap with ConocoPhillips, BP unloads its stake in the North Slope’s big Kuparuk field, while BP adds holdings in a North Sea field.
2019: BP conducts the first three-dimensional seismic survey of Prudhoe Bay, hunting hidden pockets of oil and saying it wants to keep the field alive another 40 years. BP later sells its entire Alaska portfolio to Hilcorp Alaska. North Slope oil production, still fed primarily by Prudhoe Bay, runs about 500,000 barrels daily.
2012: Hilcorp buys Cook Inlet assets of Chevron and Marathon Oil and immediately becomes the dominant oil and gas producer in the basin.
2014: Hilcorp expands to the North Slope and becomes operator of the Milne Point, Northstar, and Endicott fields and the Liberty prospect through a $1.25 billion deal with BP.
2015: Hilcorp’s attempt to purchase a Mat-Su LNG plant and sell additional natural gas into the Fairbanks market is rejected by then-Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards.
2017: A subsea natural gas pipeline owned by Hilcorp leaked gas into Cook Inlet for months. Dangerous ice and water conditions prevented repairs for more than two months after the leak was identified. The situation highlighted the challenges of responding to offshore accidents in the basin.
2018: Hilcorp completes a roughly $90 million subsea pipeline project to allow oil produced from West Cook Inlet fields to be piped to the refinery at Nikiski. The project coincided with the closing of the Drift River oil storage terminal, long seen as a potential environmental hazard for its location at the base of Mount Redoubt, an active volcano.
2019: Hilcorp buys all of BP’s Alaska assets for $5.6 billion.