State approves Point Thomson pipeline

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska has approved the operation of a 22-mile pipeline connecting the Point Thomson development to the trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

In a decision dated Wednesday, the RCA said ExxonMobil and pipeline developer PTE Pipeline LLC will begin to operate the pipeline — the first from the multibillion-dollar Point Thomson development — in December.

Point Thomson has been controversial and the subject of extensive litigation between the state and ExxonMobil. An agreement between the state and ExxonMobil called for the company to begin producing oil and gas from the area or lose its lease.

In September, ExxonMobil said it and its partners have spent $3.2 billion to open the Point Thomson field.

While Point Thomson is valued primarily for its natural gas deposits, which are estimated to represent 25 percent of all gas in the Prudhoe Bay region, it also produces liquids that can be shipped by the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

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