Hilcorp seeks exception to oil exploration spacing regs near Anchor Point

Hilcorp has applied for an exception that would allow it to begin prospects on an exploratory well closer to adjacent property owners than currently allowed under state regulations.

The private property is located west of the Alaska Sterling Highway and the gas site is on the east side at approximate Milepost 149, roughly 7.25 miles north of Anchor Point.

Hilcorp has applied for an exception to the statewide regulation 20 AAC 25.055 (a) related to drilling units and well spacing default limits as listed in the Alaska administrative drilling code. If granted, Hilcorp will be able to begin prospects on the Cottonfield 6 exploratory well closer than 1,500 feet adjacent to independent property owners. The company filed an application with the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

There is a tentatively scheduled hearing set for Jan. 18 in the AOGCC building in Anchorage.

According to Harold Hale, resident next to the drill location, property owners were notified by certified mail in October that Hilcorp is also interested in leasing the subsurface of residential property. Property owners were contacted in November regarding the application for exception to spacing requirements.

Hale and neighbor Logan Sales are concerned about the proximity of the drill site next to their property due to potential hazards such as water contamination and bluff erosion. Hale said residents are also concerned about the ability to safely evacuate the area in case of an emergency eruption or unexpected explosion at the site.

Sales, who plans to attend the hearing in Anchorage, is particularly concerned about the current bluff erosion already in close proximity to the Sterling Highway and what additional drilling might cause. Sales commented by phone that additional property owners in proximity to the drill site have expressed concern and are in the process of organizing an opposition group.

Samantha Carlisle, special assistant with AOGCC, responded to an email from the Homer News that all information related to the January public hearing can be found on their website at https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/aogcc/Events.aspx.

The public can submit comments to the website, during the public hearing or can be sent directly to Carlisle at samantha.carlisle@alaska.gov. Anyone wishing to attend the event remotely should contact Carlisle at least two days before the scheduled hearing.