BP's selling off its Alaska oil assets. The buyer has a history of safety violations

(Inside Climate News, 28 Aug 2019) BP has a long history on the North Slope and deep pockets to respond to disasters. Privately owned Hilcorp has a long list of safety and environment violations.

One of Alaska's biggest oil producers—BP—announced Tuesday that it is selling all of its Alaska operations to Hilcorp, a privately-owned company with a troubled safety and environmental track-record.

The $5.6 billion sale includes BP's stakes in the Trans Alaska Pipeline and the Prudhoe Bay oil field, one of the nation's largest and once its most productive oil field, which BP currently operates.

Hilcorp is a relatively new player in Alaska's oil and gas industry. The Houston-based company's business strategy has been to purchase older oil and gas fields and try to make them profitable—a track-record experts say it hopes to repeat with its new acquisitions.

Since entering Alaska in 2012, Hilcorp has rapidly expanded across the state, from the underwater gas fields in Cook Inlet to the oil fields along the North Slope.

As it has done so, it has amassed a long list of safety and environmental violations. Among the most egregious incidents: three workers were nearly killed in an accident in 2015; a methane leak from an underwater pipeline was not stopped for months in 2017; and in late 2018, an oilfield worker was killed at Milne Point on the North Slope.

The company's litany of violations led to unusually strong language from state regulators, who wrote in a letter to Hilcorp in 2015 saying that a disregard for regulatory compliance was "endemic to Hilcorp's approach to its Alaska operations," and that "Hilcorp's conduct is inexcusable."

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Inside Climate News, 28 Aug 2019: BP's selling off its Alaska oil assets. The buyer has a history of safety violations