Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 6:17 PM on Wednesday, September 14, 2011

State talks Alaska hire to oil companies

By Pat Forgey
Morris News Service — Alaska

Oil companies seeking billions in reduced taxes from Alaska defended their local hire efforts at a state Senate hearing in Anchorage Thursday, while at least one promised changes to boost Alaska hire.

The Senate's Labor & Commerce Committee held hearings on Gov. Sean Parnell's proposed oil production tax reductions.

Parnell said that would boost Alaska employment, but the committee is looking into what chair Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, called "unsettling observations" that recently came to light, that being in 2010 more than half of new oil industry hires came from outside Alaska.

Representatives of ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil defended their local hiring practices and said they already preferred to hire Alaskans.

BP Alaska's Claire Fitzpatrick said her company did as well, but also promised to do more in the future to boost Alaska hiring.

"We will always hire the best candidate for the job, but our preference is to hire qualified Alaskans," she said.

She acknowledged some North Slope workers lived out of state and flew in for work. BP encourages local hire by providing transportation from Anchorage or Fairbanks, but not outside Alaska, she said. And nonresident workers are responsible for any flight delays, she said.

Fitzpatrick said most of BP's employees are Alaskans, but the company is making new efforts to track Alaska hire by its contractors and subcontractors and encourage them to hire more Alaska residents.

BP's bid packages will start looking beyond just quality, price and safety, she said.