An Alaska Superior Court judge said Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) must get a chance to tell the state why its North Slope natural gas field leases shouldn't be revoked.
But Judge Sharon Gleason sided with the state's right to reject the oil giant's development plan for Point Thomson.
The field represents more than one-quarter of the North Slope's proven reserves.
It is also considered vital to advancing the construction of a natural gas pipeline.
Gov. Sarah Palin called the ruling a "significant step forward in the state's efforts to develop valuable oil and gas resources."
Exxon Mobil officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Last year the state rejected a modified plan submitted by Exxon Mobil and decided to revoke the leases.
Exxon Mobil has filed 22 plans of development over nearly 30 years for the 106,200-acre unit. No commercial oil or gas operations have begun.
Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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