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(a) An operator shall file an application for a geothermal exploration permit before drilling shallow holes for purposes of measuring heat flow or temperature gradient.
(b) The application fee prescribed by 11 AAC 05.010 must accompany each application for an exploration permit. The application must include the following information:
(1) the name and address of the landowner;
(2) the name and address of the operator;
(3) the legal description and map of the exploration area;
(4) the approximate location of each proposed hole;
(5) the type and size of drilling rig;
(6) the proposed drilling program, including the drilling system or type of circulating medium for, approximate depth of, and casing program for each hole;
(7) the type of drilling sump and proposed method of sump abandonment at each location;
(8) the approximate length of time that each hole will be used for observation;
(9) the proposed method of abandonment for each hole;
(10) sufficient information to enable the commissioner to determine whether the proposed operation will comply with 11 AAC 84.895; and
(11) any other relevant information the commissioner determines necessary.
(c) A geothermal exploration permit will be granted for a term not to exceed two years. A permit may be extended for any number of consecutive periods, each period not to exceed one year. Modifications to the original proposal must receive prior approval from the commissioner. The commissioner will, in his discretion, modify permit stipulations.
(d) Each geothermal exploration permit issued is subject to the following provisions and any other provisions the commissioner determines necessary to assure compliance with this chapter:
(1) The drilling of shallow holes may not exceed 1500 feet.
(2) Flowline temperatures must be taken at a minimum of 30-foot intervals during drilling operations. If the fluid return temperature reaches 85ΓΈ C (185ΓΈ F), drilling must cease immediately and the hole must be
(A) completed as an observation hole by running iron or steel tubing as deep as possible and filling the annulus with drilling mud from total depth to 10 feet below the surface and with cement from a depth of 10 feet to the surface;
(B) abandoned; or
(C) equipped with mud cooling and wellhead control devices to maintain well control and mud return temperature at or below 85ΓΈ C (185ΓΈ F).
(3) If steam or hot water at 85ΓΈ C (185ΓΈ F) or greater, as measured at the surface or at the depth drilled, is encountered, further drilling must stop immediately and the hole must be
(A) completed as an observation hole, using iron or steel tubing cemented from total depth to surface;
(B) abandoned in compliance with 11 AAC 87.160; or
(4) If artesian water is encountered
(A) the hole must be plugged to the satisfaction of the commissioner; or
(B) developed as a water well for water use or hydrothermal use under AS 46.15.
(5) If the conditions outlined in (2) - (4) of this subsection are encountered, the commissioner must be notified immediately.
(6) Locations proposed in natural thermal areas within a quarter mile radius of hot springs, fumaroles, or other geothermal surface expression or in areas of known artesian water flow must be identified. The commissioner will, in his discretion, require special drilling and completion techniques, such as cemented surface casing and expansion-type blowout preventers, for those holes.
(7) An adequate supply of mud and lost circulation material must be kept on hand.
(8) Observation holes must be completed in a manner allowing satisfactory subsequent abandonment. At a minimum, the annular space must be filled with mud or cuttings from total depth to 10 feet below the surface and with cement from a depth of 10 feet to the surface. Tubing must be capped when not in use.
(9) Abandonment of holes must be done in a manner that will protect freshwater aquifers and prevent subsurface interzonal migration of fluids and surface leakage. At a minimum, the boring must be filled with mud or cuttings from total depth to 10 feet below the surface and with cement from a depth of 10 feet to the surface. For observation holes, the top 10 feet of tubing below the surface must be filled with cement and the tubing cut off at ground level or in a manner otherwise directed by the commissioner.
History: Eff. 5/8/83, Register 86; am 1/1/86, Register 96
Authority: AS 38.05.020
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Last modified 7/05/2006