(Changes attribution to Oil Search, adds company comment)
WASHINGTON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - A former Trump administration official who oversaw oil and gas drilling on federal lands resigned last week to work for Papua New Guinea-based Oil Search Ltd, which is expanding its Alaska operations.
Oil Search said on Thursday it had hired Joe Balash, who served nearly two years as the U.S. Interior Department’s assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management, as its senior vice president for external affairs for its Alaska operations. Balash will join the company later this month.
“Joe is a proud Alaskan and brings significant regulatory and external affairs experience to Oil Search, a company relatively new to operating in the United States,” Oil Search’s Alaska president, Kieran Wulff, said in a statement.
Balash’s move was first reported by the Washington Post.
Balash is the latest top Trump administration official in the Interior Department to leave for a job in the private sector.
Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned in July 2018 after widespread criticism for alleged ethical missteps, has taken on work as a coal consultant, according to media reports.
Interior’s former energy counselor Vincent DeVito also joined Cox Oil Offshore as executive vice president and general counsel after leaving his federal job, the Post reported on Wednesday.
Trump replaced Pruitt with Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who also spent years working as a congressional staffer.
In leaving his government job, Balash told the Post he would maintain the Trump administration’s pledge barring appointees from lobbying their agencies for five years, but that he would oversee other Oil Search employees who do work with the federal government.
Oil Search first acquired assets on Alaska’s North Slope two years ago and recently doubled its stake there.
Balash previously served as deputy commissioner for the Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources. (Writing by Susan Heavey; Additional reporting by Sonali Paul in MELBOURNE; Editing by Paul Simao and Tom Hogue)