State rejects Exxon’s plan for Pt. Thomson

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The State of Alaska’s and ExxonMobil are still fighting over one of the largest gas fields on the North Slope.

This week, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources rejected part of the company’s plan to expand its Pt. Thomson field.

The field has been in dispute for decades. And after a seven-year legal battle the state and ExxonMobil settled in 2012, laying out a roadmap for development.

ExxonMobil had to build a production facility. Right now, it produces light oil. But according to the settlement, they have to boost that production. And they have until the end of 2019 to decide how they were going to expand it or turn some leases back over to the state.

Now, the state is arguing that ExxonMobil isn’t giving it enough information to prove that it will be ready to expand, by that deadline.

This is a unique situation for the state and the company because the Pt. Thomson development is being fulfilled according to the terms of a legal settlement not the state’s normal regulatory process for a field.

A spokesperson from ExxonMobil, Aaron Stryk says the company got the state’s letter, but hasn’t had a chance to review it.

“What we can say is that we have been and will continue to be in full compliance of the Pt. Thomson settlement agreement,” Stryk said.

The company has until Oct. 13 to respond to the state.

A DNR spokesperson said the state couldn’t agree to a recorded interview on the pending legal dispute.

Rashah McChesney is a photojournalist turned radio journalist who has been telling stories in Alaska since 2012. Before joining Alaska's Energy Desk , she worked at Kenai's Peninsula Clarion and the Juneau bureau of the Associated Press. She is a graduate of Iowa State University's Greenlee Journalism School and has worked in public television, newspapers and now radio, all in the quest to become the Swiss Army knife of storytellers.

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