Hilcorp gives each employee a $25,000 philanthropic bonus to give to a cause of their choice

  • Workers with Signco Quality Signs worked 200 feet in the air as they finished installing the Hilcorp Alaska sign on the JL Tower, Anchorage's fourth tallest building, on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Hilcorp Energy is upping its giving game as the company continues to expand its presence in Alaska.

The Houston-based oil and gas producer is giving each of its employees a $25,000 philanthropic bonus to give to the causes and nonprofit organizations of their choice.

Alaska Community Foundation CEO Nina Kemppel said the philanthropy should result in more than $16 million for the company’s Alaska-based employees to grant to nonprofits in their communities. She called coming funding injection a “huge” deal for the state’s nonprofits.

“I think the nonprofit sector is going to be pleasantly surprised with all the support they’re going to get,” Kemppel said.

For comparison, the popular Pick.Click.Give program that allows Alaskans to donate a portion of their Permanent Fund dividends to hundreds of nonprofits in the state generates roughly $3 million most years, Kemppel added.

The Alaska Community Foundation began administering Hilcorp’s giving program in early 2020 as the company was seeking regulatory approval of its $5.6 billion buyout of BP in Alaska, which included the operator position at the large Prudhoe Bay oil field.

Companywide, Hilcorp will offer nearly $50 million for its employees to give as they see fit. Hilcorp employs more than 1,400 people in Alaska, and the vast majority reside in the state, according to company leaders.

BP was known in the state for having a strong corporate giving program, and Kemppel acknowledged there was concern when BP announced it was leaving Alaska among some in state’s philanthropic sector, largely due to the unknown that came with the quickly growing and privately held Hilcorp.

The typically quiet company, through its giving program, provides each new employee with an individual giving account seeded with $2,500. Hilcorp then matches all employee contributions up to $2,000 per year. The $25,000 will go into to those accounts.

In the roughly 18 months since Hilcorp took on BP’s assets, its employees have given more than $6.7 million to the community foundation and nearly 850 other Alaska charitable organizations and nonprofits with the support of the company, according to Kemppel.

Any nonprofit with a charitable IRS status is eligible to receive a donation through Hilcorp’s Giving Program after they are screened by the ACF, she said, and there are thousands of them.

Nearly 100% of Hilcorp’s Alaska employees have also made their own contributions beyond the $2,500 from the company, according to Kemppel.

“For a lot of the nonprofits who are really stretching to offer more services and more help for their communities right now, $2,500 or $1,000 goes a long way,” she said, adding the money is granted to everything from social service providers to community art projects to youth sports programs. “It’s really inspiring to see the thought that goes behind a lot of the gifts. It’s changing the way philanthropy is done in Alaska.”

In the field, Hilcorp has stemmed production decline if not boosted output from the mature Cook Inlet oil and gas wells it has acquired over the past decade and the North Slope oil fields it more recently took over. However, the company has experienced several operational and environmental issues with the aging facilities it chooses to operate, most notably the prolonged early 2017 natural gas leak from one of the company’s Cook Inlet subsea pipelines.

The $25,000 contribution to each employee’s individual charitable fund is part of a $100,000 overall performance bonus announced in mid-December that Hilcorp employees have earned for increasing the company’s production rate by 275,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and its equity value to more than $10.5 billion, according to Hilcorp representatives. Employees also earned up to $75,000 in direct bonus pay.

The benchmarks were set in 2016 and were known internally as the Northbound 275 Goal, the latest in a series of long-term, companywide performance objectives Hilcorp leaders have set in recent years.

Hilcorp leaders said the multi-year growth targets have helped create alignment among the company’s employees.

“From our receptionists to our geologists to the men and women in the field, we truly have the smartest and hardest-working team in the business. Despite the many hurdles over the last several years, everyone worked hard — and importantly together — to tackle every problem,” Hilcorp Senior Vice President for Alaska Luke Saugier said. “This spirit is what I think makes this a special place to work and what drives success. This is about celebrating their success and sharing it with the communities where we live and work.”

Kemppel said the Alaska Community Foundation wants to “ride the momentum” of the $25,000-per-person philanthropic bonuses to encourage Hilcorp employees to become even more engaged in philanthropy work.

To that end, Hilcorp and the foundation are planning to host nonprofit giving fairs this February and March in Anchorage and Kenai to give the company’s employees more information about local causes and organizations they can give to.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity for our state and growing philanthropy in general,” Kemppel said.

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected].

12/22/2021 - 10:13am