AOGCC proposing new state "fracking" regulations

Alan Bailey

Presumably in anticipation of the testing and development of oil production from source rocks in Alaska, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, or AOGCC, has proposed implementing new state regulations for the hydraulic fracturing of wells.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking," in conjunction with the drilling of horizontal wells, is a key technique used in source rock oil production.

The new regulations supplement existing Alaska regulations for hydraulic fracturing, which has been conducted for many years in the state in conjunction with conventional oil production.

The new regulations would require anyone proposing to hydraulically fracture a well to notify landowners, surface owners and operators for land within one-quarter mile of the well-bore of the planned operation.

An application for a permit for hydraulic fracturing must identify any water wells with a quarter-mile of the operation, with water sampling from any water wells having to be done before and after the fracking is carried out.

The permit application must also state the estimated volume of fracking fluid to be used and the names and quantities of all materials to be used in the fluids. The application must specify the designed height and length of proposed well fractures.

The regulations spell out a number of requirements to assure well integrity during fracking operations. Those requirements include testing standards for production well casing, testing requirements drill strings used in fracturing and requirements for a pressure relief valve between a well and the pump used to inject hydraulic fluid into the well.

The well operator must specify which rock zone is to be fractured, specify the depth of that zone and specify the depths of any neighboring freshwater aquifers.

After a fracking operation has been completed, the well operator must report to AOGCC the amount and type of material that was pumped into the well, including the names of all chemical additives used. AOGCC requires public comments on its proposed regulations by Feb. 4.

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