State Moves to Compel Firm to Plug Gas Well

Alaska Beacon
Alaska regulators on Tuesday assessed a $200,000 penalty on a bankrupt company for failing to plug an exploratory natural gas well in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough that was abandoned several years ago.
The enforcement order was issued Tuesday by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission against Pacific Energy Resources Ltd., a California-based company that appears to have been dissolved. Pacific Energy Resources went into bankruptcy in 2009 and walked away from its Alaska assets that year.
Neither the AOGCC nor any other state agency will have to collect the money; Pacific Energy Resources previously submitted that amount as a cash bond under state regulations that require such payments to ensure proper management of wells after they are no longer in service.
At issue is a site called the Middle Lake 1A well, located onshore near Point MacKenzie on the west side of Cook Inlet. A well history compiled by the AOGCC indicates that it was an exploratory gas well originally completed by Forest Oil Corp., and that it never encountered any hydrocarbons. Pacific Energy Resources, which bought Forest Oil’s Alaska assets in 2007, was the last known owner and operator, according to AOGCC records.
Pacific Energy Resources has not responded to multiple communications from the commission, AOGCC information shows.
Those records show that the commission has been trying to reach Pacific Energy Resources since at least 2014 over concerns about this and other Cook Inlet basin wells the company abandoned. Another attempt to communicate about the Middle Lake 1A well was made last December, according to the AOGCC’s notice of enforcement action.
The commission on Dec. 23 sent written notice of the pending enforcement action by certified mail to the company’s two last known addresses, and “received no response from PERL, and by information and belief, it is believed that PERL went through bankruptcy and ceases to exist as a business entity,” the enforcement order said.
Pacific Energy Resources did not leave any other wells unplugged, said Samantha Carlisle, a spokesperson for the AOGCC.
The company has 20 days to appeal the enforcement action.
The commission’s 218-page file on the well’s history shows that there is already a company preparing to plug the well and clean up the site in accordance with state requirements.
ASRC Energy Services, a subsidiary of the Inupiat-owned Arctic Slope Regional Corp., in November submitted a detailed plan to the AOGCC for securing and plugging the well as part of the commission’s orphan well plugging and remediation program.
The work is expected to be completed in the next year or two, Carlisle said.
The Middle Lake Unit 1A well is one of 18 on the AOGCC’s orphan well list; some are known to have been inadequately plugged and others are in conditions that are yet unknown. The AOGCC program got a funding boost from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, according to the commission’s website.
ASRC Energy Services has performed work for the state on other abandoned wells through the orphan well program, according to the commission’s website.

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