I’ve been following the news regarding Hilcorp’s proposed buyout of BP’s Alaska assets. On the Kenai, we’re more familiar with Hilcorp than most Alaskans, because they’ve been operating in our community for almost a decade. Even with that firsthand knowledge, questions come up about whether Hilcorp will continue to be a responsible corporate citizen when they dramatically expand their footprint in Alaska.
I welcome the conversations about what might happen, but I am admittedly more interested in what companies and organizations actually do versus what others think they might do — call it a bias for results. As for Hilcorp, they can point to real results that should encourage all of us.
In just a few years, Hilcorp became the dominant player in the Cook Inlet oil and gas industry. This was no happy accident; they worked hard and spent hundreds of millions of dollars, and it showed when oil and gas production and investment surged on the Peninsula. Before long, they set their sights on the North Slope and produced good results there, too.
Hilcorp’s decision to finally build a long-awaited Cross-Inlet pipeline and decommission the Drift River terminal was another indicator of their commitment to the local community. For decades, residents have been uneasy about storing oil at the foot of an active volcano. Hilcorp listened to us and spent the millions to finally make that pipeline a reality. Cook Inlet is safer because of it.
People often criticize large companies because they buy into the “big is bad” narrative. In my experience, Hilcorp busts that myth wide open by demonstrating a sincere desire to serve the communities in which they operate. They may not spend much on self-promotion, but instead do the right thing by their neighbors, day after day. We see proof of it here on the Peninsula; Hilcorp has worked hard to become part of our community since they first set up shop in the Inlet.
How do I know? I administer the Caring for the Kenai contest, and Hilcorp has supported us since day one. Without their and other companies’ backing, this joint effort by industry, businesses, local and state government, school districts, nonprofit organizations, environmental groups and media would not work. We give out awards for innovative environmental solutions every year, and, more importantly, encourage students to solve real problems. We could not do it without strong corporate support.
Hilcorp’s employees are our neighbors, friends, and volunteers. In a classic case of “actions speak louder than words,” Hilcorp spends more time getting the job done than talking about getting things done. This is to their credit, and should signal optimism to anyone questioning Hilcorp’s commitment to Alaska.
Give me a doer over a talker any day. Hilcorp has earned my respect, and I am eager to see what they can do for the rest of the state as they make this transition.
Merrill Sikorski is a former Kenai Peninsula Borough Assemblyman, commercial fisherman and professional assistant to the joint Alaska Senate and House oil and gas committee during the 13th Legislature. He created the “Caring for the Kenai” environmental awareness competition, now in its 30th year.
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