DNR, North Slope Borough press federal officials on Point Thomson
(Anchorage, AK) – The Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the North Slope Borough sent a joint letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week urging them to keep to the target date of Sept. 21, 2012 for issuing a Record of Decision (ROD) on the Point Thomson Project.
The letter, signed by DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan and North Slope Mayor Charlotte Brower, was prompted by the Corps’ recent public statements that it might miss the target date. Such a delay would be a major setback for the project, which is expected to provide 2,400 jobs at peak employment.
The letter is an example of new, enhanced collaboration between the state and the borough on permitting of North Slope oil and gas exploration and production. On July 28, Sullivan and Brower signed a memorandum of understanding that encourages coordination of permitting efforts and cooperation on issues of common interest. The memorandum commits DNR and the borough to monthly staff meetings as well as quarterly meetings between the DNR commissioner and borough mayor.
Located 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay, Point Thomson is the largest undeveloped oil and gas field in Alaska. The Point Thomson lessees have committed to begin producing gas condensates in the winter of 2015-2016. In addition to creating new jobs and revenue for the state, the Point Thomson project will boost throughput in the trans-Alaska pipeline and and help pave the way for large-scale commercialization of North Slope natural gas.
“The State of Alaska and the North Slope Borough hope the Corps can issue the ROD and 404 (wetlands) permit on time in order to prevent any further delays,” Sullivan and Brower stated in their letter to the Corps.
The Point Thomson project has already been impacted by federal delays. Production from the field was initially expected to begin in the winter of 2014-2015 but was set back by a year when the Corps did not meet its target date for issuing a draft Environmental Impact Statement.
The North Slope Borough and state agencies have made significant progress toward permitting the project this year. The North Slope Borough recently approved the Point Thomson Master Plan and rezone ordinance. In September, state agencies will begin issuing approximately 100 permits and authorizations needed for the project.