Murkowski sends letter questioning oil companies about drop in Alaska hire

An oil rig at Prudhoe Bay this spring. (Photo by Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Senator Lisa Murkowski on Friday released a letter she sent to five oil company leaders, saying she is concerned about the steady decrease in Alaska hire in the oil industry.

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Murkowski cited a recently released Alaska Department of Labor report, stating the share of out-of-state workers in Alaska’s oil industry rose to 37.1% in 2016. That’s compared to a low of 28.1% in 2009.

The Senator addressed the letter to the heads of ConocoPhillips Alaska, BP Exploration Alaska, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, ExxonMobil Alaska and Hilcorp Alaska.

As the Senator does every year, Murkowski asked for data on how many Alaskan residents the companies employ, including contractors and subcontractors.

In response to a request for comment, three of the companies provided statements including data on how many Alaskans they employ.

BP reported 76% Alaska hire.

“We do encourage our contractors to hire Alaskans,” BP spokesperson Dawn Patience said in an email. “BP will respond directly to the Senator’s request.”

Conoco reported 84% Alaska hire.

“We strongly support Alaska hire and buy, and encourage our contract companies to hire Alaskans,” Conoco spokesperson Natalie Lowman said in a statement.

Alyeska reported the highest share of in-state hire at 95%.

“All of our active recruiting is in Alaska. We work with Alaska colleges and universities, trade training programs [and] local job fairs,” Alyeska spokesperson Michelle Egan said in an email. “We are very committed to hiring Alaskans.”

Hilcorp reported 89% Alaska hire. A spokesperson said the company was unable to provide further comment.

A spokesperson for Exxon also said the company was unable to comment for this story. Exxon’s website states its percent Alaska hire is roughly 85%.