Alaskan Gov. Bill Walker appoints former Apache Corp. executive as state oil and natural gas advisor. File photo courtesy state of Alaska/Flickr
JUNEAU, Alaska, July 19 (UPI) -- A veteran oil and gas executive with experience at BP and Apache Corp. is the next member of the state Cabinet, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said.
Walker appointed John Hendrix, a veteran with BP and former general manager for Apache Alaska, as the chief oil and gas advisor for the state. The governor said in a statement the former executive, who was part of BP's first operations in Russia, will help steer Alaska through a weak period in the oil economy.
"As Alaska navigates this new reality of low oil prices and production, the industry itself is grappling with ways to innovate amidst this economic downturn," Walker said in a statement.
Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show Alaskan crude oil production down about 10 percent from this time last year. Lower production is leaving states like Alaska that depend on oil and gas for revenue starving for cash.
After vetoing a measure in June to draw on state savings, the governor said the state is running a $4 billion deficit. Walker said creating the new Cabinet-level position was within budgetary means. Speaking to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, the governor said bringing Hendrix on board was necessary for the industry.
"Given John's nearly four decades of oil and gas experience, his insight is much needed," the governor said.
Apache in early 2016 said it was giving up on Alaska oil and gas operations because of lower crude oil prices. Once the largest leaseholder in the state's Cook Inlet, the company said it would focus the bulk of its spending efforts elsewhere.
Apache last year was the target of a takeover offer from rival Anadarko Petroleum. Anadarko said efforts to explore the merits of the offer were "summarily rejected" by its rival.