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August 14, 2012 --- Vol. 18, No. 60August 2012

Army Corps says it might, or might not, meet Sept. 21 target on Point Thomson

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today issued a statement on the permitting status for ExxonMobil’s proposed Point Thomson condensate development on Alaska’s North Slope.

“We are still hopeful we can finish the Record of Decision (ROD) on the Point Thomson permit application by the target date of Sept. 21,” the statement said. “The target dates are estimated dates only and are established based on the volume and complexity of information we are reviewing in order to make a decision to ensure we are approving the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative. Based on the process, to include public, local, State, and Federal comment periods and applicant response timelines, the ROD and permit may not be complete until as late as Nov. 21.”

Over the weekend, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski expressed consternation that the permit decision might slip beyond the late September target. The concern is that ExxonMobil won’t be able to take advantage of the upcoming winter construction season, thus delaying first production from the Point Thomson field.

In its statement today, the Corps said ExxonMobil provided “some conceptual alternate location maps and figures” that weren’t in the company’s permit application. The plans “depict a geographic shift” of the project’s east and west pads away from the Beaufort Sea coast “in an attempt to meet agency environmental concerns.”

“In evaluating the proposed project under the Clean Water Act, we are committed to making a decision that balances protecting aquatic resources with reasonable development,” the Corps statement said.

The statement concludes: “The dates we estimate for a Record of Decision are just that — target estimates. With a proposal this large ... and many issues to address, the target dates may move.”

— Wesley Loy

See story in Aug. 19 issue, available online at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 17, at www.PetroleumNews.com

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