Regulators in Alaska are proposing a comprehensive set of rules to govern hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the state, and will accept public comments on the proposals through early February, when a public hearing is also scheduled.
Under rules proposed by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC), drillers would be required to notify landowners, surface owners and other operators within a quarter-mile radius that fracking will take place. The drillers will also be required to conduct sampling and analysis at drinking water wells both before and after fracking.
Other requirements would require drillers to disclose the chemicals used in fracking operations, meet wellbore integrity requirements and contain fracking fluids.
AOGCC spokeswoman Jody Colombie told NGI’s Shale Daily that the agency hasn’t received any comments so far, but expects industry and environmental groups will weigh in eventually.
“I’m sure we will eventually get some comments,” Colombie said Wednesday. “Nobody really rushes to these things. It’s only the first week of January; by the end of January we should have some.”
The AOGCC began accepting public comments on Dec. 20 and is scheduled to accept them until 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 4. The agency has also scheduled a public hearing for the proposed rules at 9 a.m. on Feb. 5. The hearing will be held at AOGCC’s offices in Anchorage.
“After the public comment period ends, the AOGCC will either adopt these or other provisions dealing with the same subject, without further notice, or decide to take no action on them,” the agency said in a written statement. “The language of any final regulation may be different from the proposed regulation.”
The rules would amend Title 20, Chapter 25 of the Alaska Administrative Code. Specifically, all applications for a permit to conduct fracking would require “an affidavit showing that all owners, landowners, surface owners, and operators within one-quarter mile of the wellbore trajectory have been provided a complete copy of the application for [fracking].”
Drillers would be required to provide a plat showing the well location and identify any drinking water wells, freshwater aquifers or well penetrations within a quarter-mile radius. They would also be required to determine whether the well qualifies for a freshwater aquifer exemption.
Water sampling would also be required at least 90 days before and within 120 days after fracking operations are conducted at a well. The sampling will include tests to determine pH, alkalinity and specific conductance, as well as the presence of major cations and anions, total dissolved solids and total petroleum hydrocarbons.
On the issue of frack chemical disclosure, the proposed rules call for drillers to estimate the total volume of chemicals that will be used, and to submit the trade names and generic names of the principle fluids. Drillers will also be asked to submit:
Asked if she thought industry and environmental groups supported the proposed regulations, Colombie said, “I think there is support, but I certainly don’t know that for sure. This is the holidays still. I don’t think industry or environmental groups are going to be thinking fracking regulations until probably mid-January.”
The Alaska State Legislature is scheduled to convene its first session for 2013 on Jan. 15.
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