In October 2009, Exxon Mobil Corporation (ExxonMobil or Applicant) submitted a new application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District (Corps) for authorization to fill wetlands and waters of the U.S. under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA) and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the Point Thomson Project in Alaska. The Applicant developed this new proposed project, based on their February 2008 Plan of Development, which would not be subject to Section 102 of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) for disposal of offshore dredged material, as was the case in 2002 when the Applicant proposed oil and gas development plans for the Point Thomson Unit and surrounding areas.
Because the new proposed project would require authorization from the Corps under Section 10 of the RHA and Section 404 of the CWA, authorization from the Corps is now the major federal action, requiring the Corps to be the lead federal agency for this EIS. Although there are some similarities between the 2002 Study and the current study, the project as currently proposed and described in the Applicant’s Project Description (2009) is substantially different.
The Applicant’s proposed project includes a central gravel pad for wells and facilities, two satellite gravel pads for wells, an airstrip, a service dock, a sealift facility and barge mooring dolphins (dredging of around 1500 cubic yards may be required), a gravel mine site, infield gravel roads, and infield gathering pipelines. The central pad would support processing and compression facilities, housing for workers, and support infrastructure for the satellite pads–one to the east and one to the west of the central pad. Offshore portions of the reservoir would be developed using long reach directional drilling. A 22-mile-long export pipeline would be constructed to transport hydrocarbon liquids from Point Thomson to existing common carrier pipelines at the Badami Development. The project would also include infrastructure such as communications towers and staging facilities at Badami, Prudhoe Bay, and/or Deadhorse.
The graphic below provides the details of the 2009 Point Thomson Project.
The project would produce natural gas from the reservoir, process the gas to remove liquid condensate for sale, and then re-injected the processed gas back into the reservoir, conserving it for future use. Oil may also be produced as part of the project if an oil rim or other reserves are determined producible. Previously authorized drilling of two production wells has already been completed at the central pad.
The project site is located approximately 60 miles east of Deadhorse on the Beaufort Sea coast, 60 miles west of Kaktovik, and just west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Project Location and Features - click on graphic for larger PDF view
The formal scoping period concluded on February 25, 2010. As part of the scoping process, the Corps held public and agency scoping meetings in Fairbanks, Kaktovik, Nuiqsut, Barrow, and Anchorage. The scoping effort resulted in more than 300 comments concerning the project. The Scoping Summary Report, summarizes the outreach efforts and comments.
The Corps, as the lead federal agency, prepared a Draft EIS to evaluate and describe the environmental effects associated with the development activities as proposed by the Applicant during construction, drilling, and operation of the Point Thomson Project. During the Draft EIS public comment period over 660 comments were received on the Draft EIS. The Final EIS will include comments and the Corps responses.
The Final EIS was published and released to the public on July 27, 2012. Edits were based on the comments received on the Draft EIS. Corrections were made and text changed for clarity. The Final EIS includes an appendix which contains comments on the Draft EIS along with Corps responses to the comments.
The Corps initiated the NEPA process as part of its permit review process. The Corps will evaluate comments received as part of the public notice review. The Corps has structured this EIS to support its public interest review, its determination of compliance with related federal laws, and its evaluations under the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines. This EIS helps document the actions that have been taken to avoid and minimize impacts for the NEPA compliance, Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines compliance, and the Public Interest Review.
For further information or questions about the proposed action contact Hank Baij.