2 Oil Firms Try Again To Hide Deal’s Finances

Category: AP News
Created on Wednesday, 06 May 2020 15:58
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ANCHORAGE (AP) — Two oil companies renewed a request for Alaska regulators to protect the financial information of Hilcorp Energy Co., in its proposed $5.6 billion purchase of BP Alaska assets in the state. 

Hilcorp wants the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to shield its finances from public scrutiny during the proposed purchase, the Anchorage Daily News reported  Tuesday.

The oil companies blacked out document sections related to Hilcorp’s financial fitness and access to capital in a filing with the regulatory agency Monday.

“Petitioners seek to protect and keep confidential” answers to questions about Hilcorp’s financial reserves and its ability to acquire capital, the companies wrote in a request for confidentiality.

The companies provided information related to crude oil spills since 2003, but sought to keep a wide array of other information from public view, including pipeline repairs and operational risk assessments related to the trans-Alaska pipeline.

After oil prices plunged, the commission requested additional details in April. The regulators asked whether the industry turmoil impaired Hilcorp’s ability to borrow money to finance the purchase.

The companies, which hope to complete the sale by June following regulatory approval, argue that disclosure could put Hilcorp at a competitive disadvantage.

BP in August announced plans to sell to Hilcorp operations in Alaska, including interests in Prudhoe Bay, the Point Thomson gas field and the trans-Alaska pipeline system. BP recently announced altered terms, including the allowance of slower payments, while the sale price has not changed since the proposed sale was announced.

The agency will make a future determination on the request for confidentiality, commission spokeswoman Grace Salazar said.

The Alaska Public Interest Research Group has pressed for disclosure of Hilcorp’s finances out of concern the private company may be too small to handle unexpected costs, such as a major oil spill.

“This doesn’t allow the public to engage on this in a substantive way,” said Phil Wight, who studied the deal for the consumer rights group.