Phillips chief visits North Slope, assures workers

Posted: Sunday, March 19, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The chief executive of Phillips Petroleum Co. visited the North Slope on Friday to see the company's new oil properties.

During a brief stop in Fairbanks, Jim Mulva said union workers have nothing to fear from Phillips, which has made a deal with BP Amoco to buy all of Arco Alaska's assets for $7 billion.

Mulva said his inspection of Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk, the nation's two largest oil fields, left him confident that Arco Alaska's workers would fit well into Phillips.

''The corporate cultures are even more similar than we thought,'' Mulva said. On Wednesday he said all of Arco Alaska's workers would be hired by Phillips.

BP Amoco sold Arco's Alaska holdings in order to win Federal Trade Commission approval of BP's acquisition of the rest of Atlantic Richfield Co.

The FTC had blocked the BP-Arco merger, saying the combined company would control too much Alaska oil and could manipulate West Coast refining and gasoline markets.

Mulva used his brief time in Fairbanks to repeat his message that Phillips is eager to step into Arco Alaska's shoes. Arco now produces about 325,000 barrels of oil per day on the North Slope.

Mulva said union labor shouldn't worry about his company. Fairbanks labor halls supply the construction work force at Arco's new Alpine project near the Colville River.

''Our attitude toward unions is no problem whatsoever,'' Mulva said. ''We do not differentiate.''

In general, he said, oil field service contractors and vendors accustomed to Arco won't have any trouble adjusting to Phillips' approach to business.

''We want to be a good corporate citizen,'' Mulva said. ''We very much understand and admire Arco Alaska's preference for hiring and building in Alaska. You'll see that carried out with very little change.''

Mulva also said Phillips plans to develop Prudhoe Bay's massive natural gas reserves ''sooner rather than later.''

If the Arco Alaska purchase is approved, Phillips would own 43 percent of that gas.

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