September 20, 1999 --- Vol. 5, No. 45September 1999

Town hall meetings will be held prior to final agreement between state, BP Amoco, on terms of ARCO acquisition

Gov. Tony Knowles said Sept. 20 that a series of town meetings will be held as early as mid-October to take public comments on terms reached between the state and BP Amoco on its acquisition of ARCO before the state finalizes an agreement.

The state said the Federal Trade Commission is expected to conclude its work in November and that state discussions with BP Amoco and the public hearings will be timed in order to allow state input to the federal review process.

"If the discussions between the state and BP Amoco are successful in addressing Alaska's concerns, I have asked that any draft merger agreement be released to the Alaska public," Knowles said in a statement. "Before any agreement is finalized, I have asked the state and BP Amoco negotiators to hold a series of town hall meetings to get the public's review of the terms and seek their suggestions."

Dates for town meetings will depend on the outcome of discussions, but the state said those meetings could occur in mid-October and include Alaska's major urban areas, centers of oil and gas activity, as well as a statewide teleconference and Internet web site accessible to the state's outlying areas.

Knowles appointed a cabinet level review team shortly after the proposed merger was announced in early April. Knowles also consulted with national experts in antitrust law and oil and gas economics in crafting the state's response to the proposed merger.

In August, Knowles set two goals before the state would bless the buyout: increased North Slope competition and a renewed commitment to Alaska.

Knowles called on BP Amoco to divest itself of sufficient acreage and production to allow another major company to participate on the North Slope. The governor also called on access to natural gas resources for development; a renewed commitment to Alaska hire; continued support for environmental protection, including the completion of planned double-hulled tankers; and continued support for Alaska communities and educational system.

Knowles met with BP Amoco international exploration and production chief Dick Olver last week in Juneau. Cabinet-level state negotiators will continue talks with their BP counterparts following this week's special legislative session with expectation of reaching a draft resolution of the terms by mid-October.

After reviewing the public's comments and consulting with legislators, a final agreement could be signed in early November.

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