Exxon is going big in Alaska.
With memories still raw a quarter-century after the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the litigation that followed, Exxon Mobil Corp. now holds the reins to a pair of projects considered pivotal to the state’s future.
And that puts the global oil giant in an odd position: In addition to producing hydrocarbons, it’s working to regain public trust.
On Thursday, as part of an effort to increase transparency, Exxon flew journalists to see the biggest development underway on the North Slope: The $4 billion Point Thomson gas field near the fiercely protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
With frenetic construction work temporarily slowed, it was the first time members of the media could safely visit the site, Exxon officials said.
Hugging the edge of the Arctic Ocean 60 miles from the nearest village -- and 60 miles from the Prudhoe Bay oil patch -- the field is unusually remote.
The introductory workers’ handbook doesn’t flinch, even with glints of humor: When it comes to the environment, what should you expect? Think of an island in Hawaii. Then think of the opposite.
Temperatures once dropped to 66 below zero and the place can feel, says the handbook, like a “remote outpost on the dark side of the moon.”
But in less than two years -- after Exxon won a key federal permit -- a shiny oil field village has sprung from the tundra.