April 22, 2009 / 11:05 PM / 8 years ago

Exxon says drill rig at long-awaited Alaska field

HOUSTON, April 22 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Production Co (XOM.N) said Wednesday it has moved a drilling rig into place at the Point Thomson Project, responding to pressure from the state of Alaska to develop decades-old leases.

"We are moving forward with drilling and development activities at Point Thomson for the mutual benefit of Alaskans and the Point Thomson Unit working interest owners," said Craig Haymes, Exxon Mobil's Alaska production manager.

Haymes said plans call for production at Point Thomson to begin by the end of 2014. He said Exxon Mobil is working with the state to resolve remaining issues surrounding development of the field.

The field lies on the eastern North Slope, west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The state has maintained that Exxon and its partners breached leases, some of which date back to the 1960s before the huge Prudhoe Bay North Slope oil discovery, by not developing them.

Exxon and its partners, including ConocoPhillips (COP.N), BP Plc (BP.L) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N), say they have worked diligently to develop Point Thomson and deserve to keep the leases.

The companies see the field as mainly a natural gas producer critical to developing an Alaska gas pipeline, but the state has pushed for gas liquids production to begin sooner.

Point Thomson oil and gas was discovered in 1977 and the area organized into a unit for development, but the last well was drilled in 1982. (Reporting by Bruce Nichols; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

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