State Regulations: Alaska
The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) regulates the drilling for and production of oil and gas resources, the principles of oil and gas conservation, and the underground injection for both waste management and enhanced recovery. The AOGCC is an independent, quasi-judicial agency of the State of Alaska. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR), Oil and Gas Division, is responsible for leasing state lands for oil and gas exploration. The agency implements programs that encourage exploration and development activities on state and private lands. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) administers a wide array of programs to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment.
Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
333 West 7th Avenue, #100
Anchorage, AK 99501-3539
(907) 279-1433 (phone)
(907) 276-7542 (fax)
Alaska Department of Natural Resources
Oil and Gas Division
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 800
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 269-8800 (phone)
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
410 Willoughby Avenue, Suite 303
Juneau, AK 99801-1795
(907) 465-5065 (phone)
Disposal Practices and Applicable Regulations
The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) has developed a regulatory program for two subsurface (onshore/offshore) methods of drilling and production waste disposal: underground injection and annular disposal. Title 20, Chapter 25 of the Alaska Administrative Code (AAC) contains the regulations of the AOGCC. Waste management other than underground injection or annular disposal, from the state perspective, is regulated by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) under Title 18 (various Chapters) of the AAC.
- Underground Disposal of Oil Field Wastes and Underground Storage
of Hydrocarbons. The regulations of the AOGC are
found at 20
AAC 25.252. The operator must:
- file a letter of application with the AOGCC;
- demonstrate that the proposed disposal will not allow
the movement of oil field wastes into sources of freshwater
AAC 25.990(27): water that has a total dissolved solids concentration
of less than 10,000 mg/l, and occurs in a stratum not exempted, or water
that occurs in a stratum that serves as a source of drinking water for human
- case the disposal wells and cement the casing to isolate
the disposal zone and protect oil, gas, and freshwater;
- conduct mechanical integrity testing (MIT) of the well
prior to disposal and conduct retesting at least once every four years (water
– MIT every four years; slurry – MIT every two years;
and more frequent testing if well integrity concerns are identified);
- monitor the injection pressure and rate, as well as the
pressure in the casing-tubing annulus during actual disposal
- notify the AOGCC of an indication of pressure communication or
leakage, and implement corrective action or increased surveillance
at the discretion of the AOGCC.
- Freshwater Aquifer Exemption. The regulations of
the AOGC are found at 20
AAC 25.440. The operator must file a letter of application requesting
the exemption. The AOGCC will issue the exemption if the freshwater aquifer
meets the following:
- Does not currently serve as a source of drinking water;
- Will not serve as a source of drinking water in the future;
- Sufficient data are provided to substantiate the water quality and use.
- Annular Disposal of Drilling Waste. The regulations
of the AOG are found at found at 20
AAC 25.080. An operator holding a permit to drill a well may dispose of
drilling waste through the well's annular space after filing with the AOGC
an Application for Sundry Approvals, along with the information required by
- The operator must file a very detailed request for authorization,
- The disposal operation must not contaminate freshwater,
cause drilling waste to surface, impair well integrity, damage a producing
zone or potential producing zone, or circumvent 20 AAC 25.252.
- Regulatory limitations with respect to the duration of
disposal operations (ninety days, actual injection within one year), the
disposal volumes (35,000 barrels), and the well location (drill pad or platform
of drilling waste generation) apply, unless the operator demonstrates that
compliance with the limitations is imprudent.
- Quarterly performance reporting on Form
- Drilling Waste Disposal Facilities. The relevant solid
waste management regulations of the ADEC are found at 18
AAC 60.430, entitled Drilling Wastes. A drilling waste
disposal facility shall accept only drilling waste that meets
the federal exploration and production exclusion from the
definition of hazardous waste. It may not accept certain wastes described
in the regulations. The facility owner or operator shall keep to a minimum
the introduction of extraneous liquids, proceed under a fluid management plan
if a dry option is selected, and operate with a minimum of two feet of freeboard.
The design of a drilling waste disposal facility must take
into account the location of the seasonal high groundwater table, surface
water, and continuous permafrost, as well as proximity to human population
and to public water systems, with the goal of avoiding any adverse effect
on these resources.
- Other ADEC Regulations. In addition to solid waste management
AAC 60), the ADEC has promulgated regulations governing
hazardous waste. (18
AAC 62), which adopt the federal exclusion from the definition of hazardous
waste for oil and gas exploration and production waste.
- Offshore Surface Disposal. If surface disposal is proposed
offshore, the operator has to secure a permit from the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the National Pollutant
Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). For example, EPA Region 10
has issued NPDES
General Permit AKG285000 for the Cook Inlet. Discharge is allowed for
water-based muds, but not for oil-based and synthetic muds.