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September 24, 2010 --- Vol. 16, No. 85September 2010

Army Corps permit for ExxonMobil’s Point Thomson project faces delay

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has told ExxonMobil that extra time will be needed to make a decision on a permit for the company’s Point Thomson project on Alaska’s North Slope.

Whether this will have any bearing on ExxonMobil’s goal of starting production of natural gas condensate from the Point Thomson field by the end of 2014 is unclear. The company has some contingency time built into its schedule. But a company spokesman said today he couldn’t immediately comment on the matter.

The Corps is the lead federal agency for developing an environmental impact statement for the project.

Harry Baij, project manager for the Point Thomson EIS, told Petroleum News the timeline is being pushed out by about a month.

It means the entire process, including the record of decision on whether to issue a permit, might extend through January 2012. That’s the projection, Baij said.

ExxonMobil had wanted the permit by the end of 2011, he said, to make way for winter field construction and development of a gravel mine site.

Part of the reason for extending the EIS schedule is to allow time to complete studies and analyses necessary to write sections of the document, Baij said. One study, for example, is looking at noise expected to come from construction and operation of the Point Thomson project. Another study involves mapping wetlands.

ExxonMobil aims to produce 10,000 barrels a day of condensate from the field, located about 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay on the eastern North Slope.

Baij said everybody involved is well aware of ExxonMobil’s commitment to the state to begin production by year-end 2014, and its desire for a permit decision by the end of 2011.

“We’re constantly reminded of that,” Baij said. But one important consideration, he said, is to issue a complete draft EIS for public review.

See full story in the Oct. 3 issue of Petroleum News, available to subscribers online at noon, Friday, Oct. 1 at www.PetroleumNews.com

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