State reduces Hilcorp fine for worker safety incident

In September 2015, three men nearly died at Hilcorp’s Milne Point Unit on the North Slope, after the trailer they were working in filled with nitrogen. Image courtesy of AOGCC.

The state is fining oil and gas company Hilcorp $200,000 for a 2015 incident that nearly killed three workers on the North Slope.

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The final order amount, which was released today (Mar. 3), is a significant reduction from the $720,000 penalty the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission proposed last year.

In Sept. 2015, three Hilcorp contractors were knocked unconscious when nitrogen filled their trailer while they were working at the Milne Point Unit.

After investigating the incident, AOGCC took the highly unusual step of shutting down all four of Hilcorp’s rigs operating on existing wells in the state for nearly a month (26 days).

The agency said the shutdown had a big financial impact on the company and that’s partly why it’s reducing the fine. In the order, AOGCC also notes Hilcorp has a “significant history of noncompliance” but in the past year has improved compliance.

In a statement, Hilcorp said it doesn’t plan to appeal the order. The company said it’s taken steps to avoid a similar incident in the future.

Hilcorp is responsible for a natural gas leak from a pipeline in Cook Inlet that is releasing between 210,000 and 310,000 cubic feet of gas per day. The company said it won’t be able to begin repairs on the line until mid to late March.

Annie Feidt is the broadcast managing editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Annie here

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