AOGCC to hold hearing on fracking notice proposal

Alaska’s oil and gas regulatory oversight body, the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, is required to make public the locations, depth and operating data of oil and gas wells, but not information about how the wells may be treated with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. This may change if the commission rules in favor of a proposal requiring public hearings for fracking permits.

On Oct. 19, the conservation nonprofit Cook Inletkeeper requested the AOGCC make fracking permits subject to the public notification and public hearing requirements with which the AOGCC evaluates proposals for other oil and gas activities. AOGCC commissioners will discuss the proposal in a public meeting in Anchorage on Dec. 15 and will take public comments until the date of the hearing.

BlueCrest Energy plans to use fracking methods to extract oil from the Cosmopolitan formation, located offshore beneath Cook Inlet near Anchor Point. The company plans to begin drilling a well into the formation in late November and to produce oil from it this spring, said BlueCrest Health, Safety and Environment Manager Larry Burgess.

BlueCrest applied to AOGCC on Aug. 11, 2016 for a permit to frack its Cosmopolitan wells. Under present notification requirements, notice was sent to residents living within a half mile of its wellpad at Mile 151 of the Sterling Highway, who were able to view the application on request.

Shavelson said because Cook InletKeeper had taken an interest in the BlueCrest project, AOGCC officials decided to give them a copy of BlueCrest’s fracking permit application although they weren’t required to do so. Cook InletKeeper has posted a copy of the permit on its website.

BlueCrest’s planned fracking well will extend horizontally 3 miles from the shore of Cook Inlet and 7,000 feet deep — 6,881 feet deeper than the deepest water well in the area, according to a BlueCrest presentation. Although BlueCrest’s operation has attracted public protest, Shavelson said Cook InletKeeper’s concern was more about future fracking wells.

“We looked at (BlueCrest’s) permit and didn’t get super excited about it just because it was so deep and far offshore,” Shavelson said. “But a lot of people got concerned because fracking was coming into the populated areas of Cook Inlet. I think we’re going to see more of that. So what we’re trying to do is address that public concern and give people an opportunity to weigh in.”

BlueCrest President Benjamin Johnson said his company doesn’t plan to make any formal presentations at the hearing, though some BlueCrest employees may be present.

Johnson said a notice and hearing process for fracking permits would have no additional benefit over the regulations currently in place and would create a new public cost, adding that the oversight of the AOGCC is sufficient to ensure the suitability of a prospective fracking project.

According to its hearing notice, AOGCC estimates public notices and hearings for fracking projects would cost $14,000 per year.

 

Reach Ben Boettger at ben.boettger@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Mary Peltola responds to a question during a forum at the Kenai Visitor Center on Aug. 3, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. With less than two weeks to go before Alaska’s Aug. 16 election, the three candidates seeking to temporarily replace Congressman Don Young in Alaska’s U.S. House seat have made clear their positions on abortion. (Peninsula Clarion/Jake Dye)
Here’s where Alaska’s U.S. House candidates stand on access to abortion

Palin and Begich oppose congressional efforts to guarantee abortion rights, Peltola supports abortion access

The Sterling Highway crosses the Kenai River near the Russian River Campground on March 15, 2020, near Cooper Landing, Alaska. (Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Russian River Campground to be closed until June 2023 beginning next week

Resurfacing and reinforcement work will occur along about 1 mile of the Russian River Campground Road

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Hikers rescued near Cooper Landing

They became trapped in a steep ravine after taking a canoe over Kenai Lake and climbing a mountain, troopers say

Vials of empty monkeypox vaccines sit at a table at Seattle Central College in Seattle, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (Daniel Kim/The Seattle Times via AP)
State announces two-tiered system for monkeypox vaccine

Due to low availability, the monkeypox vaccine is administered only in response to potential exposure

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, leads an informational town hall about ranked choice voting inside the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Carpenter holds forum on ranked choice voting

Don’t “overthink it,” representative says

Raymond Bradbury preserves his salmon while dipnetting in the mouth of the Kenai River on Saturday, July 10, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River dipnetting closed; Kasilof to close Sunday

The Kasilof River dipnet fishery is reportedly slow, but fish are being caught

Silver salmon hang in the Seward Boat Harbor during the 2018 Seward Silver Salmon Derby. (Photo courtesy of Seward Chamber of Commerce)
Seward Silver Salmon derby runs Aug. 13-21

Last year’s derby featured 1,800 contestants competing across eight days

Rayna Reynolds tends to her cow at the 4-H Agriculture Expo in Soldotna, Alaska on Aug. 5, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Animals take the stage at 4-H expo

Contestants were judged on the quality of the animal or showmanship of the handler

Emily Matthews and Andy Kowalczyk pose outside the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies headquarters on Friday, July 29, 2022, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Charlie Menke/Homer News)
AmeriCorps volunteers aid Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies

The 10-month commitment pushed them outside of comfort zones

Most Read