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Dozens of Alaskans speak out for and against Hilcorp-BP deal at Anchorage hearing

Dave Karp testified in favor of Hilcorp Alaska purchasing BP assets before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)

A public hearing Tuesday on Hilcorp’s proposal to buy BP’s North Slope assets drew testimony from dozens of Alaskans.

Those at the Anchorage hearing calling for speedy approval from the agency lauded Hilcorp for reviving oil and gas production at aging fields that larger companies had abandoned.

Others urged the agency to proceed warily, citing Hilcorp Alaska’s environmental and safety record. They said the agency should reject the company’s requests to keep its financial information from public review.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska is overseeing the part of the $5.6 billion deal involving the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline and related pipelines. It received more than 200 comments on the deal during a recently ended written comment period, but the agency said the importance of the issue and public interest warranted another opportunity for comment.

Speaking before the commission, Margi Dashevsky held up a jar of oil she said was collected from the shores of Prince William Sound years after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. She said she doesn’t want to see another disaster.

“The Alaska public deserves to know if Hilcorp has the financial capability to clean up a spill,” she said.

Margi Dashevsky held up a jar of crude oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill that she said was collected in 2002, while testifying before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska hearing in Anchorage on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)

A meeting attendee beside Dashevsky held up a sign that read, “There is no Planet B.”

John Hendrix, who was chief oil and gas adviser under former Gov. Bill Walker, credited Hilcorp for turning around sagging gas production in Cook Inlet, keeping the lights on and heaters running in Southcentral Alaska.

“My mother in Homer, she has gas thanks to Hilcorp,” and at reduced rates, Hendrix said. “No longer does her propane come from Canada.”

Christy Resler, president of ASRC Energy Services, said Hilcorp nearly doubled production to about 30,000 barrels of oil per day at the Milne Point oil field on the North Slope.

People listen and wait to testify on Hilcorp Alaska's proposal to buy BP assets during a Regulatory Commission of Alaska hearing in Anchorage on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)

The commission has given itself until Feb. 11 to decide on Hilcorp’s request to keep its financial statements confidential. The company has cited concerns that disclosing the documents will hurt its competitive advantage.

Jim Sykes, former member of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly, said safe oil production and shipping is critical to oil-dependent Alaska. But he said the agency should reject the transfer until Hilcorp’s financial records are disclosed and Alaskans can determine the company’s ability to operate safely.

“Is Hilcorp biting off more than it can chew? Hopefully not," he said.

Jeanine St. John, a vice president at Lynden Logistics, said she supports an expedited sale of BP assets to Hilcorp during public testimony at the Regulatory Commission of Alaska hearing in Anchorage on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)
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