As a legislator and Speaker of the House, I dedicated much of my time to creating jobs and more economic opportunities for Alaskans. A big part of this effort was increasing North Slope oil production and reversing the decline in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS).
During my time as Speaker, we focused on incentivizing new investment in Alaska’s oil patch — from Cook Inlet to the North Slope. Fast forward to today, and Alaska is seeing the benefits by way of huge new oil discoveries and potential for large volumes of oil we could only have dreamed about a decade ago. Those discoveries are in development now, and by most accounts will generate more Alaskan oil and jobs well into the future.
There’s been another promising development in the effort to jumpstart North Slope oil production, and that’s the recent announcement that Hilcorp will take over BP’s Alaska assets, including Prudhoe Bay.
Think back to the early 2000s. Southcentral utilities and residents feared natural gas shortages and blackouts. After legislation passed incentivizing Cook Inlet exploration and production, Hilcorp entered Alaska — in a big way. Hilcorp quickly kick-started Cook Inlet production, and today, nobody is talking about gas shortages.
On the North Slope, after purchasing interests in several fields in 2014, Hilcorp has delivered similar positive results. Just a few weeks ago, Hilcorp announced they’re on track to double production at Milne Point. By investing and drilling more, Hilcorp’s approach has brought Milne Point production over 34,000 barrels per day for first time in almost 13 years.
Hilcorp is well-positioned to shake things up again, and accelerate production and find additional reserves — this time at Prudhoe Bay. If we look at what Hilcorp has managed to do in the Cook Inlet and other North Slope fields they operate, then Alaskans would be right to expect increased investment resulting in more oil flowing through TAPS.
Hilcorp’s entrepreneurial approach to business, which focuses on results and innovation, has shown proven results. Alaskans have every reason to expect they will continue investing in the latest technologies and techniques for producing more oil to help fill TAPS.
In just the past eight years, Hilcorp has invested more than $4 billion dollars in Alaska. Companies don’t spend that kind of money unless they are committed to the long-term. Hilcorp’s knack for finding and extracting oil, backed by their labor force that’s nearly 90% Alaskan, is one of the best opportunities we have to increase oil production, and create more Alaskan jobs.
One of the benefits of leaving office, is enjoying more time with my children and grandchildren. I think about their futures often. My belief in more oil production as a solution to many of our challenges has not changed; if anything, the desire to ensure the state is a healthy, promising place to live has only intensified. This is why I am speaking up in support of Hilcorp now.
If we want to prolong the life of Prudhoe Bay, Hilcorp is the company to do it. I look forward to seeing what they can do, and believe they will make Alaskans proud.
Mike Chenault is a former Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives.
• Mike Chenault is a former Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives.