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1. NATURAL GAS:

After 30 years of struggles, Exxon lays groundwork for project of 'unprecedented complexity'

POINT THOMSON, Alaska -- On the coast of the frigid Beaufort Sea just west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Exxon Mobil Corp. is building a $4 billion natural gas extraction facility that could help make Alaska an important player in international liquefied natural gas markets. Exxon initially plans to ship 10,000 barrels per day of gas condensates from the isolated Point Thomson site. But long term, the oil giant sees that operation as the critical first step in a multibillion-dollar plan to sell Alaskan natural gas to energy-hungry Asian consumers.

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