Ever since BP announced plans to sell most of its Alaska assets to Hilcorp, business leaders and industry insiders have been trying to decipher what this move means for our state’s future.  Basically we have a situation where a small fish swallows a big fish – an international oil giant exits, replaced by an aggressive young company from Houston. 

In this episode of Frontiers, I thought it would be a good time to look ahead to the next chapter. Right now, it’s not a clear picture. All we know is that we are on the precipice of a big change.

Here are some of the highlights from this week’s show: 

  • Life after BP: For starters, what does BP’s exit mean for oil revenue? Why Sen. Bert Stedman, co-chair of the Senate Finance committee, believes this is a good time to revisit taxes. Meanwhile, a group of longtime activists for raising oil revenue has launched an initiative called the Fair Share Act. Why it looks like the battle over Senate Bill 21, known as MAPA, the More Alaska Production Act, is heating up again.
  • A helping hand: What does BP’s departure mean for non-profits, which have depended on the company’s generosity?

In this show, we graze over a buffet of issues in hopes to revisit them in more depth at a future time. Truly our oil and gas revenue structure is a complicated piece of machinery, all too often oversimplified and worse yet, politicized.

As Sen. Bert Stedman told us, it’s hard to find the sweet spot in developing a tax policy that is both fair to Alaskans and the industry.

“The concern is, when we go into the process of fixing it, the political process gets hijacked or hay wired,“ Stedman said, “We end up going off too heavy in tax increases, or, for that matter, the other side –too heavy in deductions, and we have more instability.”

So when BP’s sale to Hilcorp is finalized, one thing won’t likely change: Alaskans will continue to debate whether we’re getting our fair share in oil and gas revenues, because the search for the “sweet spot” is never over.

I’ve also reached out to Hilcorp’s media machine. Hopefully we’ll hear back to continue this discussion. My ears perked up when I heard that the company gave each and every employee a $100,000 bonus in 2015 for reaching the company’s five-year goals. 

This sounds like a company that doesn’t do the same-old-same-old. Is that a good thing for Alaska? It will certainly be unchartered territory which is what we love to explore here on Frontiers. See you next week.

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