Why Russia Wants Alaska Oil Fields

Point Thomson is located on state acreage along the remote Beaufort Sea, 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay and 60 miles west of the village of Kaktovik.

Source: http://corporate.exxonmobil.com/en/company/worldwide-operations/locations/united-states/alaska/point-thomson

The Point Thomson reservoir holds an estimated 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 200 million barrels of natural gas condensate, a high quality hydrocarbon similar to kerosene or diesel. The Point Thomson gas represents about 25 percent of known gas resources on the North Slope.

ExxonMobil is developing initial production facilities to produce up to 10,000 barrels per day of natural gas condensate. The condensate will then be transported by a 22-mile pipeline which connects into the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.

The initial phase of Point Thomson establishes critical infrastructure for current and future Point Thomson developments. It is an important learning experience to reduce uncertainty and to gather data for future phases of Point Thomson development. Lessons gained from this high pressure gas condensate cycling project on the North Slope will be key to unlock Point Thomson’s future potential.

natural gas condensate

During operations, initial phase onshore facilities will be used to recover natural gas condensate located primarily offshore in the reservoir, using proven long-reach drilling technology. Two injection wells will work in tandem with a production well, cycling up to 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day through an onsite central processing facility. Condensate will then be transported by pipeline and gas re-injected for future recovery.

natural gas cycling

Building Point Thomson facilities requires extensive onsite infrastructure designed to minimize the project’s footprint. Since October 2012, we’ve constructed the following critical pieces of infrastructure:

  • Housing and facilities with capacity for more than 200 people onsite;
  • Expansion of existing gravel pads to support onsite facilities;
  • Installation of a 22-mile pipeline that will bring new gas condensate resources to the Trans Alaska Pipeline System;
  • Fuel tanks to support onsite activities and project expansion;
  • A new, onsite airstrip;
  • A service pier; and
  • Infield roads for onsite transportation.
Point Thomson airstrip

Point Thomson is opening up a new area of the North Slope. Our work with our Alaskan partners is making Point Thomson possible.

We are building initial production facilities designed to produce up to 10,000 barrels of natural gas condensate per day. Those facilities will connect to the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, and are projected to bring new resources into the system in 2016.

ExxonMobil Alaska has invested about $4 billion in Point Thomson – more than 70% of that in Alaska. During our summer 2014 work season more than 1,200 Alaskans were directly engaged in working on the project.

In 2014 ExxonMobil installed a 22-mile pipeline. In addition, we will complete gravel and civil infrastructure work on site. The work will leverage our network of contractors, involving 700 personnel on the North Slope and many more across the state.

Alaska's contractor tree

Point Thomson marks a new era both for ExxonMobil in Alaska and the North Slope. The investments made will open the eastern North Slope to new development and lead to increased production into the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.

With our Alaskan partners, the ongoing work and investments in Point Thomson are also laying the foundation for future gas development. Alaska has the opportunity to become a global natural gas leader. We are excited to be contributing to the next chapter in Alaska’s energy legacy.

It is our goal to develop Point Thomson safely and responsibly. We believe that strong safety and environmental performance is integral to overall successful project performance.

ExxonMobil strives for a workplace that will enable us to achieve our clear and simple safety standard: Nobody Gets Hurt. This goal includes our neighbors and contractors, as well as our employees. All Point Thomson workers participate in rigorous safety training, related to both site risks and the specific hazards associated with individual roles. Workers are trained, supported, and ready to work safely, every day.

Throughout planning, design, and construction of Point Thomson, ExxonMobil has made it a priority to avoid or minimize environmental impacts. We have designed comprehensive mitigation measures to minimize impact on tundra, wildlife, aquatic resources, and subsistence activities.

Protecting wetlands, streams, lakes and marine waters

  • Utilizing shore-based long-reach directional drilling to reduce the impact on off-shore resources
  • Using existing gravel pads to reduce overall new tundra footprint by more than 20 acres
  • Designing pads, roads, bridges and culverts to maintain natural drainage patterns and stream flows to the extent possible
  • Using bridges instead of culverts to benefit fish passage and streams flows

Wildlife & wildlife habitat

  • Using marine mammal and wildlife protection plans that are recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a North Slope industry best practice
  • Elevating pipelines designed to provide a minimum clearance of seven feet from the tundra for reducing impacts on wildlife movements
  • Locating barge route inside barrier islands and away from the main fall migration corridor of bowhead whales
  • Requiring routine aircraft flights to generally fly at a 1,500 foot altitude following a path inland from the coast to avoid disturbance to wildlife and subsistence activities

Polar bear protection

Polar bears are known to den along Alaska’s Beaufort Sea coast, in those areas with habitat that will support such denning. ExxonMobil has taken several measures to minimize its impact on polar bears:

  • Using forward-looking infrared cameras to survey the surrounding areas to identify and avoid potential bear dens
  • Utilizing procedures and communication protocols for wildlife encounters, which include closure and potential rerouting of ice roads in the event of a polar bear sighting
  • Training employees and contractors to avoid and mitigate interaction with wildlife

A core component of ExxonMobil’s vision for Point Thomson is to be a good neighbor. ExxonMobil began consulting with North Slope Borough government officials and residents on drilling and production plans in 2008.

Our ongoing consultation involves an open dialogue between ExxonMobil and residents of the North Slope Borough on how suggestions and recommendations are addressed and incorporated into design, location, construction, and operations. We are committed to maintaining a positive working relationship built on trust and collaboration with the North Slope Borough, Kaktovik, Nuiqsut, Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, Native allotment owners and heirs, the Iñupiat community of the Arctic Slope, as well as many others.

Point Thomson map

ExxonMobil is involved in a number of ongoing initiatives to communicate with local residents about the Point Thomson development. The Kaktovik community has been a primary focus in developing collaborative programs at Point Thomson.

Kaktovik Point Thomson Working Group

  • In order to facilitate communication throughout the life of the project, Point Thomson collaborated with Kaktovik to establish the Kaktovik-Point Thomson Working Group
  • The working group is primarily composed of local village elders as well as individuals from the Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation, the Village of Kaktovik, the City of Kaktovik, and the Kaktovik Whaling Captains Association
  • The working group provides a forum for the community to advise ExxonMobil on measures to mitigate impacts through design, construction, and operations
  • Design features that were incorporated as a result of the working group’s input include:
    • Increased pipeline wall thickness: To withstand incidental bullet strikes from coastal subsistence hunters, we designed a pipeline with thicker walls in certain locations
    • Rounding of gravel pad corners: The gravel pads were designed with rounded corners to reduce profile and possible impact to caribou movement
    • Reduction of potential adverse visual effects: The Point Thomson pipeline and gathering lines are textured and coated to reduce sun glare and contrast. Additionally, Point Thomson permanent facilities are painted a pacific blue color to reduce off-site visual effects
Alaska pad wildlife

Kaktovik Community Foundation

ExxonMobil assisted Kaktovik in establishing the Kaktovik Community Foundation (KCF) to provide a mechanism for corporate giving that meets community needs in a sustainable way. The Foundation’s goals reflect those of the Kaktovik community – to promote Inupiaq interests and values, to build a strong community, and to encourage life-long learning. ExxonMobil contributed to KCF’s initial funding efforts with a seed donation, part of which was dedicated to the development of a community ice cellar.

Kaktovik and Barter Island Archaeology

As part of its agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and in cooperation with local agencies, ExxonMobil partnered with residents of Kaktovik to assess cultural resources on Barter Island. With the help of local experts and a high school intern, and in cooperation with local agencies, the Point Thomson archaeology team employed sophisticated technologies to record artifacts and investigate heritage sites. Some of these technologies and excavating techniques were later taught to students in the Harold Kaveolook School through ExxonMobil’s Science Ambassador Program.

Science Ambassador Program

ExxonMobil initiated the Science Ambassador Program in the Harold Kaveolook School in Kaktovik in 2009. This program involves ExxonMobil professional employee volunteers who teach science and/or math lessons to students in the school. Through this program, the school is then eligible for grant money from ExxonMobil. Lessons presented in Kaktovik to-date include: archaeology, chemistry, drilling, refining, and geology.

Source: http://corporate.exxonmobil.com/en/company/worldwide-operations/locations/united-states/alaska/point-thomson