About half of BP’s Alaska employees have accepted a job with Hilcorp

BP Alaska building in Midtown Anchorage. (Alaska Public Media staff)

BP announced Thursday that about half of its more than 1,500 Alaska employees have accepted a job with Hilcorp, the private oil company that plans to buy BP’s entire Alaska business in a $5.6 billion deal.

Of the employees not going to Hilcorp, about half decided to take a severance package from BP. Others opted to transfer out of Alaska to stay with BP or took a job with another company.

That leaves nearly 300 employees who don’t have a job lined up yet, and are on track to receive “involuntary severance,” according to Damian Bilbao, a vice president for BP Alaska.

“We have prioritized respectfully working with our staff to provide them choices through this process,” Bilbao said.

Damian Bilbao, vice president of commercial ventures at BP Alaska, talked to reporters on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, about the future of the company’s workforce in the state. (Nathaniel Herz/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Bilbao described the employment numbers announced Thursday as a snapshot in time. They will change, he said.

BP revealed the snapshot of its employees’ futures to, in part, comply with a federal labor law that requires notice to the state ahead of mass layoffs. The announcement caps months of uncertainty about the fate of BP’s Alaska workforce as the company prepares to exit the state.

BP’s employees who accepted a job with Hilcorp won’t transition to the new company until the sale is approved, according to BP.

BP is helping the workers who are still looking for new jobs, Bilbao said.

“We will continue to work with our employees to try to find them jobs with BP elsewhere if they choose,” he said. “The fact of the matter is: Alaskans like to live in Alaska, and that will influence the way that we work through this process and help our employees find their next employment.”

Bilbao is among those who don’t know what their next job is.

“I’m going to continue, over the next couple months, to find a role for myself that works for my family and for me,” he said. “We have other employees who are doing the exact same thing.”

Related: Our reporter is trying to learn more about Hilcorp. Can you help?

In a statement Thursday, Hilcorp Alaska said it expects to triple its workforce, adding more than 900 employees as a result of the BP sale. It will post more than 150 additional jobs in the coming months, the statement said.

“Once all positions have been filled, Hilcorp Alaska’s workforce will grow from approximately 500 employees, nearly 90% of which are Alaskan residents, to around 1,500,” it said.

Related: As BP exits Alaska, 1,600 employees are waiting to find out what’s next

In late August, BP announced the agreement to sell its entire Alaska business to the Texas-based private oil company Hilcorp for $5.6 billion. The deal includes BP’s stakes in the giant Prudhoe Bay oil field and the trans-Alaska pipeline, plus the rest of its Alaska assets.

It’s Alaska’s biggest oil industry deal in years, and it left hundreds of the state’s BP employees in limbo.

An internal email leaked to reporters in August revealed the options for BP employees: Apply for jobs with BP outside of Alaska, request to leave BP with a severance package or apply for a job with Hilcorp.

Read our continuing coverage of Hilcorp

In a statement Thursday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy praised BP and Hilcorp for finding jobs for the Alaska employees.

“I will continue to monitor and evaluate this transaction and work with both BP and Hilcorp to ensure Alaskans are well advantaged as this deal progresses,” Dunleavy said.

The sale of BP’s Alaska assets to Hilcorp still needs to clear several regulatory hurdles.

The two companies would like the deal to go through by mid-2020. Until then, BP will continue to operate at Prudhoe Bay.

Related: Lawmakers quiz state regulators on $5.6B Hilcorp, BP deal

Here’s a breakdown of where BP’s Alaska workforce stands as of Thursday.

  • BP Alaska’s total employees: About 1,560
  • Applied for a job with Hilcorp: About 1,000
  • Received a job offer from Hilcorp: 806
  • Accepted a job offer as of Wednesday: 749
  • Opted to leave BP and take a severance package: 342
  • Will transfer out of Alaska to stay with BP: 153
  • BP employees who don’t have another job yet: 294 (237 of them live in Alaska)
  • BP Alaska employees who took jobs with other companies: Unknown

Are you a BP employee in Alaska who has had to decide whether to apply to Hilcorp, look elsewhere for a job or take a severance package? Reporter Tegan Hanlon is interested to talk with you. Please reach her at thanlon@alaskapublic.org or at 907-550-8447.

Alaska’s Energy Desk reporter Nat Herz contributed to this report.