Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry
May 2019

Vol. 24, No.20 Week of May 19, 2019

French has appealed both AOGCC decisions

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

Hollis French, formerly chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, appealed a decision of the commission denying his request for a hearing on gas which leaked from a Prudhoe Bay well in 2017.

French had also requested a hearing on gas which leaked in Cook Inlet in 2017, which the commission also denied.

His first appeal to Alaska Superior Court, on the Prudhoe Bay gas leak issue, was made April 22.

That appeal was for: “Failing to calendar a hearing on waste from a North Slope well.”

(See stories in April 14 and May 5 issues of Petroleum News.)

On May 1, French appealed the second AOGCC decision.

In the Cook Inlet gas leak matter, French listed three points of appeal.

He said the commission erred in three rulings it made: that it “had no jurisdiction over gas sold by a vendor”; that it “had no jurisdiction over gas metered and severed from a property”; and “that AOGCC had no jurisdiction over gas Hilcorp purchased from Harvest Pipeline.”

Disagreements over scope

French had disagreements with the other commissioners on the scope of the commission’s authority when he was chair.

After a December hearing requested by Kate Troll asking that the commission “prevent all non-emergency venting and flaring from Alaska oil and gas wells,” the commission issued two documents, one signed by the other two commissioners and one signed by French (see story in Jan. 27 issue).

The order signed by then-Commissioner Cathy Foerster, who has since retired, and Commissioner Dan Seamount, said the witnesses at the hearing were open about the reason for the hearing - concern about climate change, and said while the commission “regulates to prevent waste, it has no authority to act regarding that subject matter,” said testimony and questions at the hearing “appeared to stem from a general lack of familiarity with how the AOGCC addresses issues related to venting and flaring,” and noted that the appropriate way to obtain information would be to schedule a meeting with the commission’s technical staff.

French, in a separate document, said a review of available information on flaring shows “the Alaska oil and gas industry is, with the watchful eyes of AOGCC upon it, performing well or better than any other jurisdiction in the United States when it comes to conserving the state’s valuable resources,” but said there was room for improvement in how AOGCC handles venting and flaring information.

He also said, “it is perfectly appropriate for citizens to ask questions of their public servants, and it is not unreasonable for them to expect answers.”

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