ExxonMobil resumes drilling from Point Thomson near ANWR

Following years of legal wrangling, ExxonMobil Corp. has resumed drilling in the high-pressure Point Thomson gas-condensate field on Alaska’s North Slope near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Following years of legal wrangling, ExxonMobil Corp. has resumed drilling in the high-pressure Point Thomson gas-condensate field on Alaska’s North Slope near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Development of Point Thomson, considered a technical challenge, was finally greenlighted in 2012 following a 7-year legal battle between the state of Alaska and ExxonMobil over the company’s lack of activity on the leasehold (OGJ Online, Mar. 30, 2012).

Construction continues toward bringing online the initial production system, which is designed to produce as much as 10,000 b/d of gas-condensate and is scheduled for startup in 2016.

Two injection wells will work in tandem with a production well, cycling as much as 200 MMcfd of gas through an onsite central processing facility. The condensate will then be transported by an elevated, 22-mile, 12-in. pipeline to the Trans-Alaska pipeline system (TAPS) (OGJ Online, Sept. 17, 2013).

“The Point Thomson field is a vital part of unlocking Alaska’s North Slope gas resources,” said Jim Flood, ExxonMobil Development Co.’s Arctic vice-president.

The Point Thomson reservoir holds an estimated 8 tcf of gas and associated condensate, a high quality hydrocarbon similar to kerosene or diesel. ExxonMobil says the gas represents 25% of known gas resources on the ANS and could be used to partially underpin the proposed Alaska LNG project (OGJ Online, Feb. 12, 2015).

Potential future development will depend on a range of factors such as business considerations, investment climate, and the fiscal and regulatory environment, the company says.

As of yearend 2014, ExxonMobil and working interest owners have invested more than $2.6 billion in the development of Point Thomson.

Winter construction continues with the opening of a 50-mile ice road from Deadhorse to central pad. Point Thomson is on state acreage along the Beaufort Sea, 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay and 60 miles west of the village of Kaktovik.

Point Thomson background

The first oil and gas leases in Point Thomson were acquired in 1965 by ARCO’s predecessor Richfield Oil Corp., ExxonMobil’s predecessor Humble Oil & Refining Co., and BP PLC.

Humble Oil merged with Exxon Corp. in 1973, and Exxon was approved as operator in 1977. The first wells were drilled in 1975 and 1977.

The company pitched more than 20 individual plans of development, eventually electing in 2008 to drill the first new wells in more than 2 decades so that it would maintain its leasehold (OGJ Online, Apr. 23, 2008).

By yearend 2010, it had drilled and tested the PTU-15 and PTU-16 wells (OGJ Online, Apr. 23, 2009; Oct. 28, 2010). The aforementioned 70,000 b/d pipeline connecting Point Thomson to TAPS was completed in 2014.

Leaseholders in the project today include BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron Corp., and Leede. Russia’s Rosneft was given an opportunity to acquire 25% interest in a 2013 agreement with ExxonMobil (OGJ Online, Feb. 13, 2013).

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