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A record of decision (ROD) was issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers approving a Section 404 wetlands permit for an ExxonMobil-led, Alaskan North Slope project for a natural gas liquids (NGLs) development in the Point Thomson field.
ExxonMobil will begin construction on the project during winter 2012-13. Point Thomson is the state’s largest undeveloped oil and gas field, containing 25% of the North Slope’s known conventional natural gas. ExxonMobil will build an initial production system at the Point Thomson field to process 10,000 b/d that will be shipped through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS).
In a legal settlement between ExxonMobil, other Point Thomson leaseholders, and the state of Alaska, the initial production system was required to be online by the winter of 2015-16, with additional provisions for full-scale development of the Point Thomson field. The startup date for the initial production system is a full year later than previously agreed to by the state and ExxonMobil due to federal delays in issuing the ROD, according to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The Section 404 permit will allow ExxonMobil and PTE Pipeline LLC to fill in over 265 acres of wetlands and tundra to construct the field development.
Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan welcomed the news. “The year-and-a-half delay in issuing this decision has been frustrating for the state of Alaska. But we are encouraged by the issuance of this permit, which is critical to finalizing so many other state and North Slope Borough permits for this multibillion-dollar project.
“The Point Thomson Project is a strategic investment for the state because it will increase the flow of hydrocarbons through TAPS and open the eastern North Slope to new hydrocarbon exploration, development and production with a 70,000-b/d common-carrier pipeline. This project should also serve as a pre-investment for large-scale North Slope gas commercialization,” he continued.
The settlement also includes deadlines for full-scale development of the Point Thomson field.
This fall, the state and the North Slope Borough moved forward with more than 100 permits and authorizations for the initial production system. Many of those permits depended on and could not be finalized without issuance of the ROD, noted DNR.
The Corps of Engineers stated the development project includes three drill pads, 10 miles of road, a gravel mine, an airstrip, barge-docking facility, and gathering and export pipelines.