Different uniforms, same game

Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2000

The following editorial appeared in Wednesday's edition of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

Closets and drawers were turned inside out at the Arco tower in Anchorage last week. The object of the search: unclaimed baseball caps, T-shirts and any other promotional goods emblazoned with the oil company's familiar logo.

The collected booty was distributed to employees on Wednesday during a reception occasioned by the official sale of Arco Alaska to Phillips Petroleum.

``These are collectors' items now,'' Arco Alaska spokeswoman Dawn Patience said of the mementos.

A shipment of baseball caps bearing the Phillips logo was distributed throughout the Arco building the following day. New orders for Phillips Alaska business cards are being placed by the hundreds.

Most employees of the oil company will still receive at least one more Arco paycheck, but nothing is quite certain in that regard.

Arco Alaska president Kevin Meyers has signed on as the new boss of Phillips Alaska. Most of his co-workers are awaiting confirmation of their roles under the new corporate regime.

For the moment they have to trust in Phillips CEO Jim Mulva's promises repeated here during a quick stop to meet with Fairbanks unions, contractors and vendors - that Arco Alaska workers all have jobs waiting in the Pennsylvania-based oil company's family.

So goes the transition instigated by the Federal Trade Commission, which foiled BP Amoco's attempt at swallowing Atlantic Richfield, Arco Alaska's parent corporation, in one big gulp.

Alaska, we say again, stands to benefit from the resulting preservation of Arco's Alaska work force.

Atlantic Richfield, after all, remains the company responsible for the wildcat wells that defined Alaska's industry, launching development of the Kenai Peninsula with the 1957 discovery at Swanson River and, 11 years later, opening the North Slope era with the 1968 strike at Prudhoe Bay.

Arco's exploratory prowess again was demonstrated Tuesday with Phillips announcement of a new satellite field on the southwest corner of the Kuparuk oil field.

Meltwater, as the discovery is known, is estimated to contain 50 million barrels of crude. That's not a huge find in the annals of North Slope oil. For comparison, Alpine, another Arco development scheduled to begin production later this year, targets a formation estimated to contain some 365 million barrels of oil.

It's the timing of Meltwater that is most noteworthy.

Arco may be gone, but the company's work force remains on the job expanding the horizons of the state's oil patch.

New ball caps. Same old teams.

We're cheering on the sidelines.

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