Point Thomson produces first condensates for TAPS

  • Photo/Courtesy/ExxonMobil Corp.

After a decade, a lawsuit that reached the Alaska Supreme Court, and $4 billion, Point Thomson is producing.

ExxonMobil Alaska announced Friday morning via social media that the large North Slope natural gas field “is now officially online.”

A $4 billion development located about 60 miles from Prudhoe Bay on the far eastern edge of the developed North Slope, Point Thomson holds about 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. It is for this reason that the field is a lynchpin to the $45 billion-plus Alaska LNG Project; it accounts for nearly one-fourth of the North Slope natural gas the project partners hope to export.

“The successful startup of Point Thomson demonstrates ExxonMobil’s project management expertise and highlights its ability to execute complex projects safely and responsibly in challenging, remote environments such as the North Slope in Alaska,” ExxonMobil Development Co. President Neil Duffin said in release.

“Our strong partnership with Alaskans and Alaska-owned companies played a critical role in helping to complete this major project. It further reinforces our commitment to pursuing the development of Alaska’s natural gas resources.”

About 100 Alaska companies contributed to the development of Point Thomson, according to ExxonMobil.

Point Thomson facilities will initially produce about 5,000 barrels per day of natural gas liquids, or condensates, that will ultimately flow through the trans-Alaska Pipeline System. Full condensate production is expected to reach 10,000 barrels per day after several months when an additional well is brought online, a release states.

There are about 200 million barrels of usable condensates, which are products similar to kerosene or diesel.

The natural gas condensates can be captured because Point Thomson is a high-pressure gas reservoir. When the pressurized gas is expanded in facility separators the liquids “fall out” and are easily collected, according to ExxonMobil project leaders.

About 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day will also be recycled and re-injected at full production as it waits for an export project.

ExxonMobil is the field operator and majority owner; BP holds a 32 percent working interest and ConocoPhillips has a 5 percent interest in Point Thomson.

First discovered in 1977, Point Thomson’s development is a saga that stretches back to former Gov. Frank Murkowski’s administration.

The Murkowski administration pulled ExxonMobil’s Point Thomson leases in 2006, contending the company did not uphold its responsibility as a leaseholder to develop the field at the time.

A subsequent lawsuit reached the state Supreme Court in 2012, but the state settled with the company in 2012 under former Gov. Sean Parnell before a court ruling. That settlement laid out the schedule that ExxonMobil developed the project under, which required first production by May 2016.

Look for updates to this story in an upcoming issue of the Journal. Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected].

04/22/2016 - 12:46pm