Article Sept. 26, 2018
ExxonMobil’s Point Thomson reservoir
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.
Article Sept. 26, 2018
ExxonMobil’s Point Thomson reservoir
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. Point Thomson gas represents about 25 percent of known gas resources on the North Slope.
ExxonMobil brought Point Thomson online in April 2016 with production facilities designed to produce and reinject (cycle) 200 million cubic feet per day of gas and produce up to 10,000 barrels per day of natural gas condensate. The condensate is transported by a 22-mile pipeline which connects into the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.<
This phase of Point Thomson development establishes critical infrastructure and provides the experience and learning for current and future Point Thomson development. Lessons gained from this high-pressure gas condensate cycling project on the North Slope will be key to helping unlock Point Thomson’s potential.
During operations, onshore facilities recover natural gas condensate from the reservoir located primarily offshore, using proven long-reach drilling technology. Two injection wells 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 is then transported by pipeline and gas reinjected for future recovery. Building Point Thomson facilities required extensive onsite infrastructure to minimize the development footprint.
What Point Thomson means for Alaska
Point Thomson is opening up a new area of the North Slope. Our work with our Alaskan partners made Point Thomson possible.
ExxonMobil Alaska has invested about $4 billion in Point Thomson — more than 70% of that in Alaska. We’ve built production facilities designed to produce up to 10,000 barrels of natural gas condensate per day. Those facilities are connected to the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) and, since commencing production operations in April 2016, have brought new resources into TAPS.
Point Thomson marks a new era both for ExxonMobil in Alaska and the North Slope. The investments will open the eastern North Slope to 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.
Environment and safety
It is our goal to operate at Point Thomson safely and responsibly. We believe that strong safety and environmental performance is integral to overall successful operations 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, construction and operation 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 offshore 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 and 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 to reduce impacts on wildlife movements
- Locating barge routes 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 seasonally present in the Point Thomson area and are known to den along Alaska’s Beaufort Sea coast. We consider both human and polar bear safety to be of vital concern. ExxonMobil has taken measures to minimize impacts on polar bears:
- In addition to regular security patrols we make extensive use of Ground Surveillance Radar (GSR) technology and high-definition cameras to detect polar bears and other large animals approaching from distances up to one kilometer. Early detection of polar bears improves our ability to monitor bear movement and allows more time to warn workers to seek safe haven.
- During the summer season when onshore polar bear activity is increased we install a seasonal fencing system around the camp and warehouse facilities where human traffic is greatest. This substantially reduces the risk of a bear encounter.
- 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.
Point Thomson neighbors
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, the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, Native allotment owners and heirs, and the Iñupiat community of the Arctic Slope, as well as many others.
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 promoting collaboration with North Slope communities.
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.