Lawmaker questions Alyeska employee move

Posted: Monday, February 01, 2010

FAIRBANKS - A state legislator from Fairbanks is questioning Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.'s decision to relocate some employees to Anchorage.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Democratic Rep. David Guttenberg said in Juneau Thursday that the move seems unjustified, and he wants a public hearing by the House Resources Committee on the pipeline operator's plan.

Alyeska, jointly owned by major North Slope energy companies, has said it wants to consolidate office space in Fairbanks and Valdez and shift many of the jobs there to Anchorage as part of a larger cost-cutting plan.

Guttenberg said the actions indicate the company "seems to have no regard for pipeline safety or integrity," which makes the company's moves of federal interest as well, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

"From what I understand, there has been internal dissent on the move, but it keeps getting overridden at the highest level," Guttenberg wrote in an e-mail last week to several lawmakers and their aides, adding that he's heard dozens of employees could be transferred.

"Over the years that I worked (the) pipeline, I found that Alyeska personnel cared a great deal about their work and were always concerned about safety and integrity issues," Guttenberg wrote. "The increased risk for spills and response times by itself should affect the decision making, but other issues appear to be more important at this time."

Alyeska has said that costs have increased for the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline. Company spokeswoman Michelle Egan said it has been open about its plans and expects to save $3 million by reducing real estate in Fairbanks and Valdez.

She noted that 2008 was Alyeska's safest year, earning it an award from the American Petroleum Institute. She said 2009 was even safer.

"We're not going to make decisions that compromise that," Egan said.

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