Alaska oil industry looks to fill more jobs

Hundreds of positions will be open on North Slope and in Arctic

Posted: Friday, July 11, 2008

FAIRBANKS - Oil industry officials in Alaska said they need to fill hundreds of jobs in preparation for more development on the North Slope and the Arctic Ocean and because of the aging of the current workforce.

A proposed natural gas pipeline, which could be the largest-ever construction project in North America, would place heavy demands on the oil industry's work force. Plus, existing infrastructure on the North Slope needs maintenance, said Mike Utsler, a senior vice president for BP who oversees the company's operations at Prudhoe Bay.

The oil and gas work force is also aging, with an estimated 40 percent of those in professional occupations eligible for retirement in the next seven years.

Utsler said the North Slope has a slightly younger work force, where those in mechanical and technical trades average between 48 and 51 years, and professional employees average 43 to 44 years.

BP Alaska has hired 600 people in the last 2 ½ years, many of whom are recent graduates who could help offset anticipated retirements, Utsler said.

"There is a vast array of opportunities to pursue," Utsler said. "When you look at the next 50 years in Alaska - what an incredible period of opportunity."

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