Exxon begins drilling in Alaska

ANCHORAGE: Exxon Mobil says it has begun drilling at Alaska's Point Thomson oil and gas field.

Patrick McGinn, a company spokesman, says drilling operations were launched Friday.

In February, Exxon returned eight of its Point Thomson leases that were part of 13 added to the field in 2002. Exxon had promised to drill wells and begin producing oil within four years, but no drilling occurred.

The state has been fighting with the Irving, Texas-based oil giant and other lease holders over the lack of progress there.

Alaska officials have tried to cancel the leases, but in January it did allow Exxon to drill on two leases after the company said it would start production within five years.