Having been instrumental in saddling PNG with the crippling UBS loan, Oil Search again shows contempt for business and political ethics
Tim Pearce | Washington Examiner | September 04, 2019
An ex-top official in the US Interior Department is joining a Papua New Guinea-based oil company days after leaving the Trump administration.
Joe Balash served roughly two years as the Department of the Interior’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management. Balash announced his departure from the government on Friday and confirmed his new position at Oil Search in an interview with the Washington Post on Tuesday.
Balash’s work at the Interior included expanding oil development on federal lands in Alaska, such as the 1002 Area in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The 1002 Area is a 1.5 million-acre oil reserve created in 1980 as part of the same legislative package that established ANWR.
The Trump administration’s ethics pledge, which Balash signed after joining Interior, prohibits ex-administration officials from lobbying their former agencies for five years after they leave. Oil Search’s operations in the United States include Alaska, though the company’s business is largely on state lands.
Balash will work on energy policy for Oil Search. He said he will abide by the ethics pledge and refrain from lobbying Interior officials, but “I’ll supervise those who do” need to work with the federal government.
“I have a ton of restrictions dealing with the Department of Interior,” Balash said. “Most of Oil Search’s properties are state lands. There isn’t really the federal nexus.”