Energy

Hilcorp grants each employee a $25,000 philanthropic account for giving to a cause of their choice

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Hilcorp Energy is upping its giving game as the company continues to expand its presence in Alaska.

The Houston-based oil and gas producer is giving each of its employees a $25,000 philanthropic account for giving to the causes and nonprofit organizations of their choice.

Alaska Community Foundation CEO Nina Kemppel said the philanthropy should result in more than $16 million for the company’s Alaska-based employees to grant to nonprofits in their communities. She called coming funding injection a “huge” deal for the state’s nonprofits.

“I think the nonprofit sector is going to be pleasantly surprised with all the support they’re going to get,” Kemppel said.

For comparison, the popular Pick.Click.Give program that allows Alaskans to donate a portion of their Permanent Fund dividends to hundreds of nonprofits in the state generates roughly $3 million most years, Kemppel added.

The Alaska Community Foundation began administering Hilcorp’s giving program in early 2020 as the company was seeking regulatory approval of its $5.6 billion buyout of BP in Alaska, which included the operator position at the large Prudhoe Bay oil field.

Companywide, Hilcorp will offer nearly $50 million for its employees to give as they see fit. Hilcorp employs more than 1,400 people in Alaska, and the vast majority reside in the state, according to company leaders.

BP was known in the state for having a strong corporate giving program, and Kemppel acknowledged there was concern in the state’s philanthropic sector when BP announced it was leaving Alaska, largely due to the unknown that came with the quickly-growing and privately held Hilcorp.

The typically quiet company, through its giving program, provides each new employee with an individual giving account seeded with $2,500. Hilcorp then matches all employee contributions up to $2,000 per year. The $25,000 will go into those accounts.

In the roughly 18 months since Hilcorp took on BP’s assets, its employees have given more than $6.7 million to the community foundation and nearly 850 other Alaska charitable organizations and nonprofits with the support of the company, according to Kemppel.

Any nonprofit with a charitable IRS status is eligible to receive a donation through Hilcorp’s giving program after they are screened by the Alaska Community Foundation, she said, and there are literally thousands of them.

Nearly 100% of Hilcorp’s Alaska employees have also made their own contributions beyond the $2,500 from the company, according to Kemppel.

“For a lot of the nonprofits who are really stretching to offer more services and more help for their communities right now, $2,500 or $1,000 goes a long way,” she said, adding the money is granted to everything from social service providers to community art projects to youth sports programs. “It’s really inspiring to see the thought that goes behind a lot of the gifts. It’s changing the way philanthropy is done in Alaska.”

The giving program donations can also go to out-of-state organizations.

In the field, Hilcorp has stemmed production decline if not boosted output from the mature Cook Inlet oil and gas wells it has acquired over the past decade and the North Slope oil fields it more recently took over. However, the company has experienced several operational and environmental issues with the aging facilities it chooses to operate, most notably the prolonged early 2017 natural gas leak from one of the company’s Cook Inlet subsea pipelines.

The $25,000 contribution to each employee’s individual charitable fund is part of a $100,000 overall performance bonus announced in mid-December that Hilcorp employees have earned for increasing the company’s production rate by 275,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and its equity value to more than $10.5 billion, according to Hilcorp representatives. Employees also earned up to $75,000 in direct bonus pay.

The benchmarks were set in 2016 and were known internally as the Northbound 275 Goal, the latest in a series of long-term, companywide performance objectives Hilcorp leaders have set in recent years.

Hilcorp and the foundation are planning to host nonprofit giving fairs this February and March in Anchorage and Kenai to give the company’s employees more information about local causes and organizations they can give to.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for our state and growing philanthropy in general,” Kemppel said.

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at elwood.brehmer@alaskajournal.com.

Elwood Brehmer, Alaska Journal of Commerce

Elwood Brehmer is a reporter for the Alaska Journal of Commerce. Email him: elwood.brehmer@alaskajournal.com

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