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May 22, 2007 --- Vol. 13, No. 47May 2007

State of Alaska wins another Point Thomson ruling

Alaska Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason issued a decision this morning denying a motion filed by the North Slope producers in the former Point Thomson unit that would have delayed the State of Alaska’s “effort to see this valuable resource developed,” the governor’s office said in a press release this afternoon.

The former Point Thomson lease holders — operator ExxonMobil and BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips — asked the judge to decide one of the issues on appeal separately and to not give deference to the agency’s expertise. The judge decided that she would consider all of the appealed issues together and would determine the appropriate legal standard of review when she ruled on the appellate briefs, consistent with normal appellate practice, the press release said.

“This decision represents another step forward in the state’s effort to have its valuable oil and gas resources responsibly developed,” the press release said.

Under the briefing schedule set by the judge, appellant’s briefs are due June 22, the state’s brief is due July 23, and the appellant’s reply is due Aug. 13th. The judge, the governor’s office said, will have a complete record ready for decision at the end of this summer.

The judge also granted the appellant’s requests to add documents to the record on appeal and identified two legal issues she wanted the parties to address in their appeal briefs.

BLM publishes revised regulations for NPR-A leasing

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has published for public review revised regulations for oil and gas leasing and field unitization in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. In a notice in the Federal Register today, BLM said that comments on the new regulations need to be submitted on or before July 23.

The revisions, designed to bring the NPR-A regulations into compliance with the 2005 Energy Policy Act, apply to several components of the regulations, including:

* The rules for granting rent or royalty reductions or suspensions;

* Bonding requirements;

* The rules for transferring title to a portion of a lease;

* The rules for lease renewal, extension or consolidation;

* New regulations that apply to leased federal land that is conveyed to the Arctic Slope Regional Corp.;

* New regulations that apply to units that include mineral estate owned by Arctic Slope Regional Corp. or the State of Alaska; and

* The rules for specifying participating areas and applying for unitization.

“These proposals will provide the framework to develop the NPR-A’s resources so as to help ensure the country’s energy security,” said BLM Acting Director Jim Hughes in a statement.

Note: See full stories in the May 27 issue of Petroleum News.

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