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Vol. 14, No. 38 Week of September 20, 2009
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Arctic Directory: UMIAQ expands its service offerings to facilitate energy project advancement

Whether it is strategic regulatory planning or camp operations, UMIAQ works with clients to meet project objectives

Q. What do you most want people to know about your company?

A. UMIAQ is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation. UIC is the village corporation for Barrow, Alaska and was founded in 1973 through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

Q. Where is your company located? Is there more than one location?

A. We have offices in Anchorage, at the Calais I Building at 3201 C Street in Suites 506 and 302, as well as an office in Barrow, Alaska.


 Q. What year was the company founded? Who founded it, and what was its original name?

A. UMIAQ was founded in 2006 by Jack Laasch, Dale Stotts, and Mike Matteucci as UIC Oilfield Services. We re-branded as UMIAQ in December of 2008 to reflect our expanded consulting capabilities. “UMIAQ”, which refers to skin boats used by the Inupiat for whaling, embodies our philosophy of working together in harmony to achieve our goals.

Q. Who heads up your company and who is on its senior management team?

A. Our senior management team consists of Bernie Nidowicz, general manager; Jeff Wilson, division manager, Oilfield Services; Curtis Wright, division manager, Response Group.


Q. Describe any partnership arrangements.

A. Within the UIC Family of Companies are many distinct lines of business that supply construction engineering, insurance, telecommunications, and marine services to name a few. We try to partner together and capitalize on each other’s strengths whenever possible.


Q. What is the company’s primary business sector?

A. UMIAQ plays an integral role in the advancement of both onshore and offshore energy development projects. Our deep-rooted knowledge of the high arctic’s environmental, cultural, and political dynamics assist our clients with strategic regulatory planning.

Q. What services does the company offer?

A. We offer regulatory permitting and compliance; stakeholder and community relations; spill response planning and support; full-service camps; project planning and management; lands management; and geospatial analysis.

Q. How many employees does your company have?

A. We have a full-time staff team of 30, and up to 36 crew members at our camp in Umiat at the season’s peak.


 Q. Is your company expanding any of its operations or services?

A. This past year, we have expanded our services from traditional oilfield services to include strategic regulatory planning and compliance; stakeholder relations; spill response planning and operations; development engineering; and geospatial analysis. The reason for expanding our services is that the UIC Board of Directors recently passed a resolution to support both onshore and offshore exploration and development. We see energy development in Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf as a huge opportunity not only for our family of companies, but also for long-term, meaningful jobs and professional development opportunities for our shareholders and others on the North Slope.

Q. What is your company’s main strength or its edge over the competition?

A. With our corporate headquarters in Barrow, our geographic relevance is hugely advantageous for our clients. Our land entitlement comprises 220,000 acres of surface real estate in the Barrow vicinity. Also, our services, most of which come early in an energy project’s life cycle, streamline project development for our clients and minimize approval delays, appeals and litigation. We also integrate design and engineering elements of projects into regulatory approval acquisition processes to take every opportunity to advance projects both quickly and effectively.


Q. What new markets, clients or projects did your company attract in the last year?

A. In the last year, we have expanded into the OCS market, and have added Shell, ExxonMobil, Alaska Clean Seas, Pioneer Natural Resources, Marsh Creek, Chevron, and Octane, LLC as clients. UMIAQ provided support services for the Umiat Lake Cleanup, Umiat Road Feasibility Study, regulatory consulting, response operations, C-Plan preparation, incident management, and ice road construction for major oil and gas clients.

Q. Has the company invested in any new technology in the last two years?

A. UIC has invested in developing an Enterprise Geographical Information System, providing UMIAQ the ability to integrate diverse information from UIC’s lands department, surveying, and regulatory and technical lines of business to define a project’s permitting, spatial, and temporal needs.


Q. What do you see as your company’s biggest challenge in the next five years?

A. Weathering the anticipated slowdown in oil and gas exploration in the NPR-A as well as uncertainty in OCS activity.

Q. What do you see as future trends or opportunities for your company from events such as long-term climate fluctuations?

A. The withdrawal of arctic sea ice may afford us significant opportunities in terms of shore-based terminals and other infrastructure projects. One future trend of climate fluctuation may be the unpredictability in determining windows of OCS operations based on sea-ice movement and inter-annual shifts in migratory seasons of wildlife such as bowhead whales.

Q. What is the average length of time that employees work for the company?

A. Length of tenure varies from seasonal workers to permanent team members. We understand and appreciate the value that experienced, knowledgeable members of our team bring to our organization.

Q. What steps does the company take to ensure a safe work environment?

A. UIC recognizes and accepts the challenges and high standards of industry to achieve zero incidents through vigorous Health, Safety, Security, and Environment practices. UIC has an integrated HSSE management system in place with a strong risk management component, to manage projects under a controlled framework to ensure management of risk and exposure as well as regulatory compliance. We take a strong approach toward maintaining a safe work environment by providing safety education and training for employees; assigning responsibility for safety management; continuously reviewing safety efforts to identify areas of improvement; and evaluating incidents that occur to develop plans to prevent future problems.

Q. Does your company have a Web site?

A. Stay tuned for our web site! We do have a page on our parent company’s site,, but for more detailed information please e-mail us at [email protected]

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