Alaska regulators say they need more time to weigh Hilcorp’s request to keep its finances confidential

Regulatory Commission of Alaska Chairman Robert Pickett at a February meeting in downtown Anchorage about the proposed BP-Hilcorp deal. (Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media)

The state regulatory commission overseeing a major part of Hilcorp’s proposal to purchase BP’s entire Alaska business says it needs more time to weigh Hilcorp’s request to keep its finances confidential. It’s the second delay this year.

In the order issued Tuesday, the Regulatory Commission of Alaska said it will extend its deadline to March 12 to decide on Hilcorp’s request to shield its financial statements from public view. It’s asking the private oil company for more information.

Meanwhile, the RCA also granted a less-controversial request from Hilcorp and BP: The companies’ purchase and sale agreement for BP’s pipeline assets will remain confidential during the commission’s review process.

The RCA is charged with overseeing the portion of the pending $5.6 billion deal that includes BP’s stakes in the trans-Alaska pipeline. The oil companies announced the sale in August. It’s one of the state’s largest oil industry deals, and needs to clear several regulatory hurdles.

In RCA filings, BP and Hilcorp are arguing that the public release of their financial information during the commission’s review process would damage their businesses and give their competitors an unfair advantage.

In public comments, however, some Alaskans have demanded financial transparency from Hilcorp. They say they want assurance that the company has the resources to operate the assets it wants to buy, and also has the money to respond to any costly oil spills.

The RCA, in its order Tuesday, said that the argument made by Hilcorp and BP in support of their requests for confidentiality of their financial information isn’t as strong as their argument about the purchase and sale agreement.

The commission is asking Hilcorp and BP to file an explanation of the specific harm that would result from the disclosure of the financial statements they’ve already submitted to the commission. It also wants to know whether any of the financial records must be filed with a federal agency.

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