U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues permit for Point Thomson Project
ANCHORAGE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District, issued a permit today to ExxonMobil Corporation and PTE Pipeline LLC (ExxonMobil), to place fill material in waters and wetlands and structures in navigable waters to construct the Point Thomson Project on Alaska’s Arctic Coastal Plain adjacent to the Beaufort Sea. The Corps issued the permit under the authorities of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act.
The Point Thomson permit authorizes construction of infrastructure to extract hydrocarbon resources by directional drilling into the Thomson Sand Reservoir. Infrastructure includes three drill pads (one including a facility for hydrocarbon processing), approximately ten miles of infield roads, a gravel mine, airstrip, barge docking facility, navigational structures, dredging, an emergency boat ramp, infield gathering pipelines, and an export pipeline to the Badami facility 23 miles to the west. The permit contains 37 special conditions to minimize adverse impacts to the environment, including payment of a mitigation fee to the Conservation Fund to compensate for unavoidable losses of aquatic resources.
In signing the record of decision to issue the permit, Col. Christopher D. Lestochi, Commander of the Alaska District, said he found the applicants’ preferred alternative, with modifications and optimizations developed through the review process, to be least environmentally damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA) as required by law. These measures included relocation of both East and West gravel fill pads away from higher functioning coastal wetlands, minimizing fill placement along the coastal shoreline to provide for polar bear access, and reduction of the gravel mine size.
“Today’s decision is consistent with the Corps of Engineers’ Regulatory mission to protect the Nation’s aquatic resources while allowing reasonable development,” said Col. Lestochi. “Our regulatory review process provides us with a path to make decisions that are fair, flexible, and balanced.”
The Corps evaluated five alternatives that included both inland and coastal infrastructure designs, and completed an Environmental Impact Statement for the project. The Corps conducted an in-depth analysis of alternatives and supplemental technical information in order to come to a decision on the permit application. The President’s Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska facilitated efficient working relationships between federal resource agencies.
With this permit, Exxon Mobil may place fill material into a total of 267.1 acres of North Slope waters and tundra wetlands. The Point Thomson project is 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay.
The Record of Decision is available on the Alaska District’s website at: http://www.poa.usace.army.mil or http://www.poa.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory.aspx