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Washington CNN  — 

A former Interior Department official who oversaw oil and gas drilling on federal lands is joining an oil company with plans to expand operations in Alaska, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Joe Balash, who served as the department’s assistant secretary for land and minerals management since late 2017, confirmed to the Post that he plans to begin working for Oil Search, a Papua New Guinea-based company that is “developing one of Alaska’s largest oil prospects in years.” Balash resigned from his post at the department last Friday, according to the paper.

Balash joins a growing list of former Trump administration officials who left their posts with the government for private sector jobs in industries they helped regulate, raising concerns among government watchdog groups and ethics experts. That list includes former Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt who began consulting for a Kentucky coal baron after resigning last year amid an ethics scandal.

The Post said Balash, who would not divulge details of his new role with Oil Search to the paper, said he would “abide by the Trump ethics pledge barring appointees from lobbying their former agencies for five years” despite the fact that he would be managing employees who would coordinate with the federal government on energy policy.

“I have a ton of restrictions dealing with the Department of Interior. Most of Oil Search’s properties are state lands. There isn’t really the federal nexus,” Balash told the Post, which noted that the company has not bid on federal leases in Alaska.

According to the paper, the company has been “aggressively” growing its drilling operations in Alaska on state lands that are near two federal reserves the Trump administration is pushing to increase oil and gas development in. At Interior, Balash oversaw the department’s lease sales on parts of those two reserves, the Post said. The paper also said Balash met with executives from the company multiple times while serving at the department.

CNN was unable to reach Balash for comment, and the Interior Department did not respond to CNN’s request for comment on his new role.

Ethics experts told the Post that Balash’s new role “raises potential conflict of interest issues, although part of it would depend on the nature of his negotiations with the firm before he left public office.”

“At the point Balash began discussing employment opportunities with Oil Search, he was prohibited from personally and substantially participating in any particular matter that would affect Oil Search’s financial interests,” Brendan Fischer, a federal reform program director at the Campaign Legal Center, told the paper.

Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, told the Post that “If this ends up being legal,” it’ll be “hard to have confidence that decisions he was making while he was working for the taxpayers were not impacted by his aspirations or hopes to go work for a company that was materially affected by his work.”

CNN’s Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.