Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission finalizes hydraulic fracturing rules

The Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission finalized its proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations at a public meeting on April 2, 2014. The Commission first proposed these regulations in December 2012 and has revised the draft regulations several times.

The regulations require the disclosure of chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process and, with this last revision, include a provision allowing the operators to submit the names of proprietary chemicals confidentially. The confidential information must be “separately filed in an envelope clearly marked confidential along with a list of the documents which are non-disclosable as trade secrets, the specific legal authority, and specific facts supporting non-disclosure” in accordance with Alaska’s public information statutes. Anyone can make a request for disclosure of that information under Alaska’s Public Records Act and file a lawsuit in Superior Court if the claim of confidentiality is challenged.

In addition, the latest regulations require a pre-hydraulic fracturing plan for baseline water sampling of water wells located “within a one-half mile radius of the current or proposed wellbore trajectory.” The operator must make “reasonable and good faith efforts” to secure the permission of all landowners to allow the pre-fracking sampling. A landowner who refuses pre-fracking sampling or refuses to allow disclosure of the results is not required to be included in the post-fracking water sampling plan.

The regulations include requirements relating to casing and cementing, identification of freshwater aquifers and all water wells located within one-half mile of the well’s surface location, the hydraulic fracturing program, pressure relief valves, confinement of hydraulic fracturing fluids, and annulus pressures. Within 30 days of completion of the hydraulic fracturing operation, the operator must file a Report of Sundry Well Operations with the Commission, outlining the work performed, the tests conducted and a summary of daily well operations. Prior to submitting the Report of Sundry Well Operations, the operator must post the information to the website.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.