RAPID/Geothermal/Alaska/Exploration

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Alaska Geothermal Exploration Permitting(4-AK)

Developers seeking to conduct geothermal exploration activities in Alaska may be required to obtain permits from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) including submission of a plan of exploration, a Geophysical Exploration Permit, and a Geothermal Exploration Permit.

Developers are required to submit a plan of exploration to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) for any exploratory activities under a noncompetitive or competitive leased property in Alaska. If the developer is seeking to explore before initiating the leasing process on state lands, then they should pursue either a geothermal exploration permit or a geophysical exploration permit. A geophysical exploration permit is necessary for conducting seismic surveys on state lands and waters. A geothermal exploration permit is necessary if shallow holes will be used for exploration. ADNR must approve any plan of exploration. If ADNR does not approve the proposed plan, then reasons for disapproval will be given to the developer. Developers will be given an opportunity to contest the decision, or amend the plan of exploration to comply with ADNR requirements.

Developers must obtain a Geophysical Exploration Permit from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) if their project requires conducting seismic surveys on state lands and waters. Developers must submit an application to ADNR for review. ADNR must ensure that the developer will comply with all applicable statutory requirements. Developers must obtain a bond or certificate of insurance before a Geophysical Exploration Permit will be issued. Developers are required to provide ADNR with a completion report within 30 days after termination of seismic exploration.

Developers must file an application for a Geothermal Exploration Permit with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR) before drilling shallow holes for the purposes of measuring heat flow or temperature gradient. Developers may be required to obtain a bond for the project if ADNR determines that one is necessary. Approved Geothermal Exploration Permits are not granted for terms longer than two years. Developers are required to submit a report to ADNR within 60 days after completion of the geothermal exploration activities regarding final hole designation, drilling logs, methods of cementing and completion, complete details of abandonment procedure and any further information on drilling difficulties or unusual circumstances.

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

Alaska Federal

Pre-Drilling Exploration Permit Agency: Alaska Division of Oil and Gas Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service
Pre-Drilling Exploration Permit: A plan of exploration must be submitted for any exploratory activities under a noncompetitive or competitive leased property in Alaska. If the developer wishes to explore before initiating the leasing process on state lands, they should pursue either a geothermal exploration permit or a geophysical exploration permit. Before initiating any form of exploration or prospecting activities that would otherwise require a land use permit under 11 AAC 96, the developer must receive an approved plan of exploration from the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. A Geophysical Exploration Permit is necessary for conducting seismic surveys on state lands and waters. These studies help to identify geological structures with potential accumulations of oil or gas. Notice of Intent to Conduct Geothermal Resource Exploration Operations (Form 3200-009)
Drilling Exploration Permit Agency: Alaska Division of Oil and Gas Bureau of Land Management
Drilling Exploration Permit: All wells drilled in support or in search of the recovery or production of geothermal resources must comply with 20 AAC 25.705-.740. The developer should submit a Permit to Drill (Form 10-401) before drilling or redrilling a well or re-entering an abandoned well (20 AAC 25.005). Upon application, the AOGCC will classify a well as:
  • exploratory;
  • development, either oil or gas;
  • service; or
  • stratigraphic test.
[1] Notice of Intent to Conduct Geothermal Resource Exploration Operations (Form 3200-009) (Temperature Gradient Well); Geothermal Drilling Permit (Form 3260-002) (All other drilling activities)

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List of Reference Sources

  1. Title 20 AAC 25.705-.740 Geothermal Resources (2014).
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