ExxonMobil lets contracts for Alaska's Point Thomson

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, July 15 -- ExxonMobil Production Co. has let contracts for work in support of the first well of a multiwell drilling program at Point Thomson Unit (PTU) on Alaska's North Slope. The gas-condensate area has no production.

PTU operator ExxonMobil submitted a development plan to the state of Alaska earlier this year. Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin said the proposed plan was not in the state's best interest (OGJ, Apr. 28, 2008, Newsletter). It was the latest in a series of more than 20 plans that have been proposed.

Irwin said the plan for the 106,200-acre PTU did not involve any commitment to produce gas. ExxonMobil estimates the high-pressure reservoir has reserves of more than 8 tcf of gas and 200 million bbl of condensate (OGJ, Mar. 10, 2008, p. 36).

Oil companies having a PTU stake have said production hinges upon construction of an Alaska gas pipeline to the Lower 48. The PTU covers 45 state oil and gas leases 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay.

ExxonMobil said the project involves a $1.3 billion investment, including a multiyear development and delineation drilling program expected to start this winter.

Under the initial phase, 200 MMcfd of Point Thomson gas is expected to be produced. About 10,000 b/d of liquid condensate that is separated from the gas is planned to be delivered for sale through new and existing oil pipelines. The remaining gas is expected to be injected back into the Thomson reservoir to maintain pressure for continued hydrocarbon recovery and for subsequent gas sales.

In addition to ExxonMobil, other major Point Thomson Unit owners include BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., Chevron USA Inc., and ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc. In addition, there are 23 other Point Thomson owners.

Contractors hired
Nanuq Inc. and Alaska Frontier Constructors Inc., both of Anchorage, will construct and maintain nearly 50 miles of ice roads and an ice air strip needed to transport the drilling rig and associated materials, camps, and personnel to the Point Thomson site. Additional contracts are planned for other key project activities, ExxonMobil said.

Craig Haymes, Alaska production manager for ExxonMobil, said, "The Point Thomson working interest owners are proceeding with the drilling plan and the project while we seek to resolve the dispute with the state over the Point Thomson Unit."

Haymes anticipates that the differences can be resolved. "Even if we cannot do so quickly, we intend to carry out the drilling program as leaseholders. We have already hired Alaskans, commenced upgrades on a drill rig, and ordered long-lead materials in preparation to commence drilling this winter."

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