Alaska LNG Project Would Use Ice-Breaking Tankers

ExxonMobil is negotiating to supply newly-formed Qilak LNG with gas from the Point Thomson field in northern Alaska for an LNG export project.

The $5 billion plan would be the first in the U.S. to use an offshore liquefaction plant and the first to utilize ice breaking tankers.  The LNG would supply Asian markets.

Qilak will begin feasibility studies, including preliminary permitting, with a target of reaching a final investment decision in 2021. A similar project is in operation on Russia’s Yamal Peninsula and a second is in development.

Qilak, a Lloyds Energy company, signed a conceptual “heads of agreement” with ExxonMobil to take at least 560 MMcfd in phase one.  The project would export 4 million tons per year of LNG over a 20-year term.

A map showing the proposed shipping lanes to be used by Qilak ice-breaking tankers in moving LNG from north Alaska to Asia.

The project would require building a gas treatment plant at Point Thomson to remove carbon dioxide and other impurities.  A subsea pipeline would take the gas to a mobile LNG plant about 10 miles (16 km) offshore.  The liquefaction plant would sit on the seabed in waters up to 52 ft. (16 m), storing the LNG beneath its deck.

The Point Thomson gas field, operated by ExxonMobil, holds 9 Tcf (226 x 109 cu m).  At a later date, Qilak could be expanded to Prudhoe Bay field gas, which has not been economic to move via pipeline to southern Alaska.

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