Note: As we write this, it is still Friday afternoon (10-26), but we wanted those who sign onto the website to find it because this Point Thomson news is hot off the press, just announced at 1:30 this afternoon by the Department of Natural Resources' Elizabeth Bluemink. The reason we are 'pre-posting' is that we don't know when we'll be able to upload more news. We are soon to be en route to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission meeting in San Antonio to hear interesting presentations from Alaskans and other oil and gas producing state leaders. But our lack of ability to post while on the road shouldn't prevent our loyal readers from having access to this late-breaking news. -dh
Dan Sullivan (NGP Photo) welcomed news today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a record of decision (ROD) and Section 404 wetlands permit needed for the Point Thomson Project, a massive North Slope liquid condensate project led by ExxonMobil Corp., to begin construction this winter.
“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,” Sullivan said.
“The Point Thomson Project is a strategic investment for the state because it will increase the flow of hydrocarbons through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) and open the eastern North Slope to new hydrocarbon exploration, development and production with a 70,000-barrel-per-day common-carrier pipeline. This project should also serve as a pre-investment for large-scale North Slope gas commercialization, and critically, is expected to create hundreds of jobs throughout the state and more than 1,000 jobs at peak employment. The state negotiated a strong Alaska hire provision for this project and we’re already seeing the benefits of that for Alaskans,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan also complimented Col. Christopher Lestochi, Commander of the Alaska District, for his leadership in the final stages of the 404 permitting process. “While the target date for issuing the ROD did slip again this year, Col. Lestochi and his team worked hard to finalize the Corps’ decision. In the last several months, DNR has been working on almost a daily basis with the Corps and other federal agencies, as well as the North Slope Borough, to make sure that our permitting efforts are well coordinated and construction proceeds this winter without another year’s delay.”
Point Thomson is the state’s largest undeveloped oil and gas field, containing 25 percent of the North Slope’s known conventional natural gas. ExxonMobil is seeking to build an initial production system at the Point Thomson Field that will send 10,000 barrels per day of liquids condensate through TAPS. This is the project that the Corps has now approved.
In a legal settlement between Exxon, other Point Thomson leaseholders, and the State of Alaska, the initial production system was required to be online by the winter of 2015-2016, 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 Exxon due to federal delays in issuing the ROD. The settlement also includes deadlines for full-scale development of the Point Thomson field.
This fall, the state and the North Slope Borough have 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.
To advance the Point Thomson project, Exxon has hired nearly 50 contractors, including many Alaska-owned firms. In briefings, Exxon has told state officials that this project will create an estimated 600 to 700 jobs from 2013 to 2016, with up to 2,400 jobs during peak construction.