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State revenue, Alaska workers stand to gain by Liberty oil project

  • Author: A.J. "Joey" Merrick
  • Updated: October 18
  • Published October 18

Hilcorp's Liberty oil field is home to the largest undeveloped light oil reserve on the North Slope and presents an exciting opportunity for economic growth at a time when Alaska's economy is struggling. With Alaska's economic woes on our minds, Alaskans are ready for good news. And with the opportunity for boosting oil production, Hilcorp's Liberty project is our good news, bringing jobs and increased state revenue.

Hilcorp estimates that the Liberty oil field contains around 150 million barrels of recoverable, high-quality crude oil. The oil field is located 19 feet deep in federal offshore waters. The project will require a 9-acre island, generating construction jobs for Alaskans. Once built, the Liberty project could boost oil production by 50,000-70,000 barrels per day. This will help offset the decline in oil flowing through the trans-Alaska pipeline, which is now running at three-quarters empty. The pipeline has been Alaska's economic engine for decades, and filling the pipeline will recharge Alaska's economy.

Not only will the Liberty project help fill the pipeline — building and operating the Liberty project means jobs for Alaskans. During the construction phase, the number of jobs is expected to peak at around 200 positions to perform ice road construction, pipeline construction and drilling unit installation. Drilling activity will take place around the clock for two years, requiring an estimated 60 to 80 full-time positions.

(ADN archive 2005)

Now let's talk dollars: The Liberty project would generate more than $1 billion in wages over the life of the project. The multiplier effect describes the indirect economic impacts of a project — how direct jobs on the project create economic growth in the rest of the economy. For instance, the Liberty project would generate an additional 17,000 jobs and another $1 billion in wages in the broader economy through the multiplier effect.

Hilcorp is committed to local hire and to quality training for workers. That's why Hilcorp will develop a new comprehensive training program for unique aspects of the project. In addition, Hilcorp has committed to local hire to support North Slope operations and estimates that 90 percent of all labor costs will come from Alaska-based companies and Alaskan labor.

The Liberty project offers what Alaska's economy needs now: jobs and training, capital investment and oil production to fill the pipeline. After benefiting from input from local residents and stakeholders and more than 15 years of study, there is another public comment period on the Liberty project open now. Alaskans have much to gain from the project's optimization of resource development and local impacts. From jobs to state revenue, Hilcorp's Liberty project is a win-win for Alaskans.

A.J. "Joey" Merrick is the business manager of Laborers' Local 341 and the president of the Alaska Petroleum Joint Crafts Council. He also serves on the board of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. More on the Liberty project is available online at www.boem.gov/Hilcorp-Liberty/.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com. 

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