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Welcome to AOGCC’s Help webpage. Links are provided to commonly requested information.

What does the AOGCC regulate?

How many commissioners does the AOGCC have?

What is the Regulatory Process for Permitting and Tracking an Oil and Gas Well?

Does the AOGCC have field inspectors to verify an operator’s compliance with the drilling regulations?

Is there a statutory deadline for AOGCC decisions?

What is the reconsideration and appeal process on AOGCC decisions?

Glossary of Oil and Gas Industry and Regulatory Terms

The following glossary of industry related terms have been compiled to help you become more familiar with important components of AOGCC activities, rules, regulations, directives, and orders.

Administrative Approval The AOGCC issues administrative approvals adjusting or expanding upon the requirements of existing injection orders. Every injection order issued by the AOGCC includes a provision for granting (in part or whole) administrative changes to the rules of the injection order, either initiated by the operator or AOGCC. Also, AOGCC promulgated regulation 20 AAC 25.556(d) which also allows this.
Aquifer Exemption Order (AEO) Upon an operator’s application, the AOGCC may, in its discretion, issue an order designating a freshwater aquifer or portion of it as an exempt freshwater aquifer, if the freshwater aquifer meets certain criteria found in 20 AAC 25.440.
Area Injection Order (AIO) The AOGCC may issue an area injection order, allowing underground injection of fluids on an area basis, rather than for each well individually. See 20 AAC 25.460.
Blow-Out Preventer Equipment (BOPE) BOPE is a standard safety system used on all of Alaska’s oil and gas wells during well operation. It is designed to halt the uncontrolled flow of oil, gas or water in the well if other safety measures (primarily the high pressure “mud” system) fail to do so. The AOGCC requires blowout preventers on all drill rigs and weekly tests typically witnessed by AOGCC operators.
Casing and Cementing Pipe cemented in the well to seal off formation fluids or keep the hole from caving in. AOGCC’s well casing and cementing regulations can be found in 20 AAC 25.030.
Conservation Order (CO) The AOGCC issues conservation orders relating to field and pool rules (20 AAC 25.520), drilling units and spacing exceptions (20 AAC 25.055).
Disposal Injection Order (DIO) The underground disposal of oil field wastes and underground storage of hydrocarbons are prohibited except as adjudicated and ordered by the AOGCC under 20 AAC 25.252.
Downhole Commingling Downhole commingling regulations, found in 20 AAC 25.215, are in place to prevent waste and to protect correlative rights. Operators are prohibited from producing from, or injecting into, more than one pool (a rock formation where oil and/or gas has accumulated) at a time in a wellbore without the AOGCC issuing an order approving the downhole commingling of two or more pools. It’s not uncommon for a well to encounter multiple pools and in these situations normally an operator will start production/injection operations in the deepest pool in the well and will produce/inject into that pool until it is depleted and then plug off that pool and move up hole to the next pool and repeat the process until all the pools have been depleted. Sometimes one or more of these pools is not large enough to warrant production/injection operations on its own, or there’s other beneficial reasons to allow commingled production/injection. In these instances, an operator will apply to the AOGCC for an order approving the downhole commingling of two or more pools. The AOGCC reviews that application so that waste will not occur and all owners receive the production they are legally entitled to.
Enhanced Recovery Injection Order (ERIO) Enhanced recovery oil is a process whereby oil is recovered other than by the natural pressure in a reservoir. Enhanced recover operations are found in AOGCC regulations 20 AAC 25.402.
Flaring Flaring is the controlled burning natural gas during oil and gas exploration and production activities. 20 AAC 25.235 provides rules and regulations for reporting gas disposition, including flaring.
Gas Disposition AOGCC regulations in 20 AAC 25.235 require operators to provide monthly gas disposition and acquisition for each production facility. The report must include gas sold, gas re-injected, gas flared or vented, gas used for lease operations other than flaring or venting, natura gas liquids produced, gas purchased, gas transferred, and other.
Hydraulic Fracturing Hydraulic fracturing is the process of creating small cracks, or fractures, in deep, underground geological formations to liberate oil or natural gas and allow it to flow up the well for capture and use in heating our homes, fueling our cars and providing the electricity we all use for our televisions, computers and other devices.
Mechanical Integrity Test (MIT) The Mechanical Integrity Tests are a primary driver for demonstrating the integrity of a well. These tests evaluate the tubing, packer, and casing by imposing pressure in the well space between tubing and the innermost string of casing.
Operator The company that has the legal authority to drill wells and undertake the production of hydrocarbons that are found. See 20 AAC 25.020, Designation of Operator.
Orders The AOGCC issues Orders (e.g., Conservation Order, Area Injection Order, Enhanced Recovery Injection Order, and Other Order) to allow official creation or modification of rules by the Commission. Specifically, Orders address issues such as well spacing, increased well density, pooling, downhole commingling, and exception locations. Further, Orders allow the AOGCC to handle enforcement and administrative responsibilities.
Plugging and Abandonment (P&A) When an operator cease its efforts to find or produce from a well, the operator must complete proper plugging and abandoning of the well and the cleanup of the well site in accordance with the AOGCC regulations (20 AAC 25.105 – 20 AAC 25.172).
Pooling Pooling is the joining together of all portions of multiple oil and gas leases to form a unit for the drilling of a single oil or gas well. The AOGCC pool rules can be found in 20 AAC 25.520, Field and Pool Regulation and Classification.
Spacing Exception The spacing of oil and gas wells is regulated to help protect the oil and gas rights of adjacent landowners and to help assure the maximum recovery of oil and gas. To further these goals, by law (20 AAC 25.055) there are default well spacing requirements which require various specified well location offsets. Because gas and oil reservoirs often do not conform to property boundaries, there are offsets from property lines where the ownership of subsurface rights changes hands. Gas wells can be no closer than 1,500 feet from a property line where ownership of the gas rights changes. Oil wells can be no closer than 500 feet from a property line where ownership of the oil rights changes. Exceptions to these offsets are sometimes requested drill wells that do not conform to the rules because of special geologic conditions.
Storage Injection Order (SIO) The underground storage of hydrocarbons and underground disposal of oil field wastes are prohibited except as adjudicated and ordered by the AOGCC under 20 AAC 25.252.
Sundry Approvals The AOGCC may grant administrative approval of the following workover operations: the perforation or reperforation of casing; stimulation; the pulling of tubing; alteration of the casing; repairs to the well; and other. See 20 AAC 25.280.
Underground Injection Control (UIC) UIC program is required in each state by a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for the regulation of Injection Wells, including a permit system. An applicant must demonstrate that the well has no reasonable chance of adversely affecting the quality of an underground source of drinking water before a permit is issued.
Well Spacing Well spacing regulations protect the oil and gas rights of adjacent landowners and maximize resource recovery by establishing default limits on how close, under the land's surface, oil and gas wells can be to each other and to property lines where ownership changes hands. These limits are set forth in a regulation, 20 AAC 25.055. Operators must abide by the default well spacing limits (referred to as statewide spacing requirements) unless they apply for, and obtain, an exception to those limits. Although exceptions to the default well spacing requirements are not unusual, AOGCC carefully evaluates each application, and typically grants them only when actual geologic conditions demonstrate that the proposed subsurface location of a well is necessary to reach otherwise unreachable oil or gas and that both the rights of adjacent landowners and underground drinking water can be protected. As a general matter, AOGCC does not have extensive authority over surface impacts such as noise, emissions, or construction.