"I am very pleased to help advance development of this exciting new field through this streamlined permitting process," Knowles said. "Development of Point Thomson will add significant production from the North Slope, and the gas reserves could ultimately figure prominently in the development of a gas pipeline. This billion-dollar investment could be the biggest development on the North Slope since Kuparak and will mean jobs for Alaskans and a significant boost to the state economy."
The MOU between the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and ExxonMobil establishes a new process for handling the state permitting of large-scale oil and gas developments such as that proposed at Point Thomson. It is modeled after an existing state process used to permit the Ft. Knox gold mine near Fairbanks, and currently being used to help develop the Pogo gold mine near Delta.
Under the process, a state permitting manager is designated to develop and coordinate an integrated plan of permitting and environmental analysis among all involved state agencies. The manager also serves as the state's lead in the required federal environmental review, ensuring state participation and timely input. The state lead will work closely with the project sponsor to identify and resolve potential problems and issues early in the permitting processes. Under the terms of the agreement, the project sponsor would reimburse reasonable costs of this work. Dick LeFebvre, who will serve as permitting manager for the project, worked as a senior land manager for DNR from 1976 until his retirement last year. He held the position of deputy director of lands and most recently served nine years as the large-mine coordinator leading the successful state permitting of several major mines including Ft. Knox, True North, and Greens Creek.
Unit Operator ExxonMobil is pursuing the development of a gas cycling project at the Point Thomson field, approximately 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay. The field is believed to hold about 400 million barrels of recoverable condensate, a high-quality liquid hydrocarbon, and approximately 8 trillion cubic feet of gas.
Once developed, the field is expected to produce up to 75,000 barrels of condensate per day for shipment down the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. This project could result in as many as 450 new construction jobs on the North Slope, along with about 50 full-time operations and maintenance jobs at the field after start-up.
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