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Fracking in Alaska: Commission proposes state regulations

Alaska Dispatch

With hydraulic fracturing -- better known as fracking -- likely in Alaska’s future, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) has introduced proposals for new state regulations on the process, Petroleum News reports (via the Anchorage Daily News).

Hydraulic fracturing is a process used to extract natural gas from wells as far as 10,000 feet below the surface. Water, chemicals and sand are pumped underground to fracture the shale rock with the pressure inside the well, which releases the gas.

The AOGCC’s proposed regulations would require a variety of precautionary measures from application permits. Applicants would be required to identify water wells within a quarter-mile of the site and notify landowners. Water sampling would also have to be conducted before and after the operation.

The permit would have to lay out specifics on the drilling, including how much fracking fluid would be used, as well as all chemical additives in the fluid.

In addition, the regulations would require testing standards for the equipment used during the process.

Hydraulic fracturing is being eyed as a potential means to invigorate Alaska’s oil industry. This summer, Alaskan lawmakers toured the North Slope’s first shale oil exploratory project, praising it as an “exciting new development.”

Alaska's North Slope may hold 2 billion barrels of shale oil -- enough to fill the trans-Alaska pipeline for a decade at current throughput of about 600,000 barrels a day.

Public comment on AOGCC’s proposal ends Feb. 4.

Read more about the proposals at the Anchorage Daily News, and more about the North Slope’s shale oil potential at Alaska Dispatch.