Murkowski to oil and gas industry: hire Alaskans

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is asking the five largest oil and gas producers in Alaska to share hiring data and for ideas on how to increase the number of Alaskans working in their industry.

The request came in a letter from the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which Murkowski chairs, to ConocoPhillips, BP Exploration Alaska Inc., Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., ExxonMobil Production Co., Alaska, and Hilcorp Alaska LLC.

Murkowski cited statistics in the 2016 Nonresidents Working in Alaska report issued in early February by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, a document she said raises a number of concerns. The big concern, she said, was the large overall decrease in the number of workers in the oil and gas industry in Alaska and the percentage of the total workforce that are nonresidents. In 2016, the total number of workers fell by 3,070, with resident workers accounting for roughly 70 percent of this loss, she said.

Meanwhile, the percentage of nonresident workers in that industry increased to 37.1 percent from a low of 28.1 percent in 2009, she said.

The senator asked for up-to-date information on employment of Alaska residents, including data for their contractors and subcontractors, plus information or suggestions that their companies, contractors and subcontractors may have on in-state workforce development and training.

Murkowski noted that career and technical colleges and workforce training programs are training many Alaskans. Hiring them and encouraging contractors and subcontractors to hire Alaskans is in all of their best interests, she said.