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Democrats call for hearings on potential sale of BP’s Alaska assets

Deal too big for Alaska not to know job, production and gasline implications

ANCHORAGE - Today, the House Democratic Caucus called on House Speaker Mike Chenault to hold hearings on the BP's potential sale of some of its Alaska assets, citing the magnitude of the implications for Alaska and the haste with which the deal is advancing as grounds for immediate action by the Legislature.

There are two open seasons in progress soliciting commitments for Alaska's gas and multiple rumors of pressure for BP to sell its assets before the end of this financial quarter on July 27, so a deal could happen fast and have major repercussions for Alaska on a number of issues.

"There are just too many unanswered questions about how this could affect Alaskan jobs, the amount of oil in the pipeline, maintenance and a gasline for Alaskans to not know what's going down," said Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).

"A new player on the Slope could be good for Alaska, but we need to know more about who they are, how they operate, and what changes we can expect," said Rep. David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks).

"It may be BP's assets they're selling, but it's Alaska's oil, and we need to know who's producing it and that the terms are good for Alaska," said Rep. Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks).

"The answers to these questions could have major implications for Alaskans, and Alaskans deserve to have our concerns heard and questions answered," said Rep. Kerttula (D-Juneau).

In addition to wanting to learn more about potential buyers, the legislators specifically highlighted a number of questions for which they would like answers. 

·         Will this deal create or cost Alaskan jobs?
·         Will it hurt or inspire more production?
·         Will the deal lead to better maintenance of the aging infrastructure to prevent spills and shutdowns?
·         Will the deal provide more access to processing facilities to encourage exploration by smaller independent companies?
·         How will the deal impact the progress on a natural gas pipeline and efforts to meet Alaska's in-state gas needs?
·         Are there any anti-trust implications that would put Alaska at a disadvantage at the negotiating table?

The lawmakers asked for Speaker Chenault to schedule hearings as soon as possible.

Read the text of the letter from the House Democrats to Speaker Chenault below.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

July 16, 2010

House Speaker Mike Chenault
145 Main Street Loop Room 223
Kenai, Alaska 99611

Dear Speaker Chenault,

On behalf of the House Democratic Caucus, I am writing to respectfully request that legislative hearings on the potential sale of BP's Alaska asset be held as soon as possible.  With two open seasons in progress soliciting commitments for Alaska's gas and rumors of pressure for BP to sell its assets before the end of this financial quarter on July 27, it is imperative that the Legislature act very soon.

There are wide-reaching implications for Alaska and its residents, and Alaskans deserve answers to the many unanswered questions a potential asset sale raises. Some questions that need to be answered include:

·         Will BP's sale of some or all of its Alaska assets create or cost Alaskan jobs?
·         Will an asset sale hurt or inspire more production?
·         Will a change in ownership and operations lead to better maintenance of aging infrastructure to prevent spills and shutdowns?
·         Will the deal provide more access to processing facilities to encourage exploration by smaller independent companies?
·         How will the deal impact the progress on a natural gas pipeline and efforts to meet Alaska's in-state gas needs?
·         Are there any anti-trust implications that would put Alaska at a disadvantage at the negotiating table?

These examples are but a few of the many important questions Alaskans deserve to have answers to before there are any changes of ownership or operations on the North Slope. Please organize hearings at the earliest possible time to ensure Alaskans get the answers they deserve.

Sincerely,

Representative Beth Kerttula, Minority Leader

cc.
Governor Sean Parnell
Attorney General Dan Sullivan
Commissioner Tom Irwin, Department of Natural Resources
Commissioner Pat Galvin, Department of Revenue
Deputy Commissioner Marty Rutherford, Department of Natural Resources
Commissioner Dan Seamount, Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
Commissioner John Norman, Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
Commissioner Cathy Foerster, Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

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