Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 21, 2017

Contact: Kristen Monsell, (914) 806-3467,

Hilcorp Alaska Expands Cook Inlet Offshore Leasing Despite Leaks, Spills, Fines

Company Behind Months-long Gas Leak Bids on 14 New Federal Tracts

ANCHORAGE— Hilcorp Alaska LLC, whose Cook Inlet offshore drilling infrastructure was plagued by an oil spill and gas pipeline leak earlier this year, was the sole bidder on new offshore federal leases in that treacherous waterway today.

That $3.03 million investment on 14 different tracts substantially expands the heavily fined company's commitment to drill in waters it deemed too forbidding to allow repair of its underwater pipeline leak for nearly four months, further threatening endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales.

“After Hilcorp's struggle with oil and gas leaks into Cook Inlet this year, it's disturbing to see the company given more chances to drill and spill in this fragile place,” said Center for Biological Diversity attorney Kristen Monsell. “Allowing this company to expand could have devastating effects on Cook Inlet beluga whales and their prey.”

Hilcorp is also seeking to build the controversial Liberty project in the Arctic. That project would involve construction of a 9-acre artificial island, drilling wells to tap underwater oil reserves, and building an underwater pipeline more than 5 miles long to send the oil to onshore facilities. Hilcorp's Liberty development and production plan is now being considered by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. 

In recent years federal regulators have warned the company to improve maintenance of its gas pipelines, and state regulators have repeatedly fined the company and said “disregard for regulatory compliance is endemic to Hilcorp's approach to its Alaska operations.” The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has repeatedly cited Hilcorp for violating safety regulations for its oil and gas operations in the state. In March 2017 the commission fined Hilcorp $200,000 for failing to maintain a safe work environment in accordance with good oilfield engineering practices, among other issues. .

“Hilcorp's disdain for regulations and history of spills could spell disaster for Cook Inlet and the Arctic,” Monsell said. “The Trump administration is setting the table for more accidents in these treacherous waters. We'll be fighting to make sure Cook Inlet beluga whales and other Alaskan wildlife are protected from dangerous offshore drilling.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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