Point Thomson field on schedule for 2016 startup, cost pegged at $4B

Tim Bradner | Alaska Journal of Commerce

ExxonMobil Corp. has initiated its second season of winter construction at its Point Thomson gas cycling and condensate production project on the North Slope. A company official also released the estimated $4 billion cost of the project for the first time, and said $1.8 billion had been spent through November 2013.

"Seventy percent of this has been spent within Alaska," said ExxonMobil project manager Gina Dickerson. She spoke Jan. 10 at "Meet Alaska," the Alaska Support Industry Alliance's annual conference in Anchorage.

The $4 billion price tag for a project that will produce 10,000 barrels per day of liquids is hefty, but Dickerson described the current work as an initial phase that will eventually be expanded. The initial project is expected to be in operation by 2016, shipping liquid condensates 60 miles west to Prudhoe Bay and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, Dickerson said.

About 200 million cubic feet of gas will be produced daily, with the liquid condensates "stripped," or removed from the gas, which will then injected back underground into the high-pressure reservoir.

Point Thomson will eventually be an important part of a North Slope gas pipeline project, Dickerson said, because its facilities are being designed to support conventional gas production when a large gas pipeline is built.

If that doesn't happen, the gas cycling and condensate production project could be expanded or the project could be converted to gas production with the gas transported to the Prudhoe Bay field and used to produce more oil.

Point Thomson has about 8 trillion cubic feet of gas and 200 million barrels of liquid condensates.

As for this winter, an ice road from Prudhoe Bay similar to one built last year is now under construction, she said. Alaska Frontier Constructors is building the ice road. When it is completed in late January, contractors will begin a schedule of winter work at the project that will include expansions of facility pads installed last winter and installation of a 20-mile, 12-inch liquids pipeline that will connect with the existing Badami field pipeline from Prudhoe Bay, Dickerson said.

Dickerson highlighted some of the key contractors on the project for work done so far. Besides the ice road, AFC will also be working on installation and expansion of additional field pads. The company will have a peak of about 240 employees working this winter.

Doyon Associated, of Fairbanks, is installing the pipeline. Doyon installed Vertical Support Members for the pipeline last winter, she said. Dickerson credited Doyon for a superior "no incident" safety record last winter, a real achievement for a pipeline company, and also credited the company with development of new techniques for welding high-pressure steel. Doyon will employ about 700, at peak numbers, this winter, she said.

Morris Engineering, of Juneau, provided design and engineering services for the new airstrip, which is now operational. Dickerson credited the company for enabling the airstrip to be completed on time. Having access to the project for fixed-wing aircraft will greatly simplify logistics and support for the project, she said.

Builder's Choice Inc. built housing units for Point Thomson's new 200-person permanent camp using the Anchorage-based company's facilities in the Matanuska-Susitna valley. The project employed 200, Dickerson said.

Pacific Rim Logistics, of Anchorage, managed the flow of material and personnel to the project, a vital function. It employed 120 people directly in the operation as well as additional people through subcontractors, Dickerson said.

Last year about 1,100 people were employed on the Point Thomson project, 85 percent of them Alaskans, she said.

In 2015, the major construction work and more drilling will be underway. A drill rig will be brought back to the field in early 2015, and large modules for the field production facilities will arrive on a summer sealift.

CH2M Hill will manage the assembly of the modules. Arctic Slope Energy Services will provide support for that.

Alaska Journal of Commerce