The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week issued a record of decision (ROD) and Section 404 wetlands permit that were needed for the Point Thomson liquid condensate project led by ExxonMobil Corp., to begin construction this winter on Alaska’s North Slope.

“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 multi-billion-dollar project,” said Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan.

The project is important to the state because it will increase throughput on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (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 (see Daily GPI, Oct. 5), and critically, is expected to create hundreds of jobs throughout the state and more than 1,000 jobs at peak employment,” Sullivan said.

Point Thomson is Alaska’s largest undeveloped oil and gas field, containing 25% of the North Slope’s known conventional natural gas. ExxonMobil is seeking to build an initial production system at the field that will send 10,000 b/d of liquid 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 winter 2015-2016, with additional provisions for full-scale development of the field (see Daily GPI, April 2). 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, Sullivan said. 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, Sullivan said.

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