State fines Hilcorp an additional $160K for violations

In September 2015, three men nearly died at Hilcorp’s Milne Point Unit on the North Slope, after the trailer they were working in filled with nitrogen. Image courtesy of AOGCC.

The state is fining oil and gas company Hilcorp an additional $160,000 for using nitrogen without permission while working on two wells in 2015 — the same practice that nearly killed three North Slope workers.

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Earlier this month, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) fined Hilcorp $200,000 for the worker safety incident, which also happened in 2015.

During that incident, the unauthorized use of nitrogen instead of water during a well clean-out caused three contractors to lose consciousness at a well site at Hilcorp’s Milne Point Unit.

In an emailed statement, Hilcorp spokeswoman Lori Nelson said the company has changed its safety practices in response to the incidents. She added Hilcorp doesn’t agree with all the Commission’s findings, but also the company doesn’t plan on appealing the latest fines.

Hilcorp is also responsible for an ongoing natural gas leak from a pipeline fueling oil platforms in Cook Inlet. The company says it can’t fix the leak until sea ice in the Inlet subsides.

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Elizabeth Harball is a reporter with Alaska's Energy Desk, covering Alaska’s oil and gas industry and environmental policy. She is a contributor to the Energy Desk’s Midnight Oil podcast series. Before moving to Alaska in 2016, Harball worked at E&E News in Washington, D.C., where she covered federal and state climate change policy. Originally from Kalispell, Montana, Harball is a graduate of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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