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

Two snowmachine-triggered snow slabs are seen below the weather station of Seattle Ridge in Turnagain Pass on Dec. 3, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Chris Flowers and the Chugach Avalanche Center)
Multiple avalanches in Turnagain Pass reported Friday

The center reported Saturday that current avalanche danger was considerable above 1,000 feet and moderate below 1,000 feet.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School district changes COVID policy for close contacts

The policy went into effect on Nov. 29

This 2010 photo shows the soon-to-be-replaced Tustumena come into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia. Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on Saturday the state would be replacing the ferry. The replacement vessel has not yet been named, and a statewide contest will be held to name the new vessel, Dunleavy said. (Homer News File)
State moves ahead with replacement of Tustumena

The state has other plans for updating the marine highway.

A sign urging COVID-19 mitigation measures hangs at a free vaccination clinic at the Y intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways, on Tuesday, Nov. 30 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Omicron variant spurs travel restrictions locally, nationally

It’s still unclear if the omicron strain is more dangerous than other COVID variants.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Bycatch becomes hot issue

Dunleavy forms bycatch task force.

Junetta Delong browses the shelves at the Soldotna Library Friends’ book and art sale at the Soldotna Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Something for everyone’

Library holds art and book sale fundraiser

Danny Dommek takes photos with Santa at Soldotna Creek Park on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘And to all a good night’

Soldotna celebrates Christmas in the Park

The badge for the Kenai Police Department (Clarion file)
Walmart briefly evacuated after bomb threat

The investigation is ongoing.

The new Homer Police Station, as seen Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. Members of the Homer Police Department officially moved into the building on Thursday. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
K-9 trooper team finds lost girl

A 12-year-old girl, poorly dressed for the elements, ran away from her downtown Homer home.

Most Read