To the editor: I am a 58-year Alaska resident and deeply concerned about the recent sale of Alaska’s BP assets to Harvest Alaska, LLC, a subsidiary of Hilcorp, LLC. I am especially worried that the Regulatory Commission of Alaska may not have sufficient capability to deal with any future irresponsible behavior on the part of the Harvest/Hilcorp LLC.
It is well-known that Hilcorp has one of the worst safety and environmental records of any oil company operating in Alaska. So, since Harvest Alaska LLC and its mother corporation are both limited liability corporations, I worry that in the event of an accident — an oil spill, for example — in Alaska or offshore, Harvest/Hilcorp will not be able to pay for the cleanup, post cleanup, and other consequences. As things stand now, we know nothing of its finances and therefore of its ability to foot the entire bill. The RCA must make sure that it has access to Hilcorp’s audited financial statements so that Alaskans can be informed that Hilcorp has and will have sufficient funds to deal with any serious, and expensive, future accident.
In line with the above, the RCA should require Hilcorp to demonstrate that it carries insurance to cover the immense cleanup costs of an oil spill as large as the March 24, 1989, Exxon Valdez spill. Hilcorp should also be required to undergo annual environmental compliance reviews and quarterly financial disclosures to ensure it will always have the assets to cover its liabilities.
It is essential that the RCA insist that Hilcorp, and indeed all Trans-Alaska Pipeline System owners, place these essential cleanup funds in a publicly transparent escrow account. Only in this way can Alaskans be more assured that these assets actually exist and therefore that any accidents will be dealt with expeditiously. Not only will the natural environment be more secure, but also the economy of our state.