WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement on the Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Irwin’s decision to allow development at Point Thomson to proceed.
“I’m happy to hear that Commissioner Irwin has decided to allow the lessees to begin development at Point Thomson,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “It’s vital that the state and the producers work together to bring Alaska’s natural gas to market.”
Point Thomson holds about a quarter of the North Slope’s 35 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves. The field is significant to plans to build a large-diameter pipeline to deliver gas to energy hungry Lower 48 states.
In addition to some 9 Tcf of gas, Point Thomson holds a significant amount of oil. A state-commissioned study last year found the field has reserves of 490 million to 600 million barrels of natural gas liquids and 580 million to 950 million barrels of oil.
Disagreements between the state and the lessees on how best to produce Point Thomson has long complicated negotiations on building a gas pipeline.
“Now that we are seeing positive steps toward resolving those issues, it is my hope that we can quickly see progress on beginning actual construction of the gas line,” Murkowski said. “Exxon Mobil and its partners have held the rights to Point Thomson for decades, I hope their renewed commitment to those leases results in speedy development of the state’s resources.”
The two wells Exxon Mobil has committed to drilling will provide more information about the make up of the field’s resources.
Point Thomson covers 106,201 coastal acres to the west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Exxon Mobil holds a 53 percent stake and operates the field on behalf of BP with 30 percent, Chevron with 14 percent and ConocoPhillips with 3 percent, and others who combined hold 1 percent.
“Alaska natural gas is key to meeting our national energy needs and reducing carbon emissions, but we cannot afford further delay,” Murkowski said. “We need to get our gas to markets in the Lower 48 before the country becomes dependent on foreign gas, just as we are dependent on oil from overseas.”