Mat-Su coal bed methane plan advances

Posted: Friday, February 29, 2008

ANCHORAGE - A state commission has taken steps that advance a private company's plan for drilling coal bed methane in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough but the project faces other regulatory hurdles.

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission this week approved all but one request by Fowler Oil and Gas Corp. for waivers from certain state regulations.

The denial centered on the size of a pipe used to funnel potentially dangerous gas or muddy cuttings away from a well as it's drilled. Arlen Ehm, a petroleum geologist who wrote the waiver request for Fowler, said the denial could be solved by using a bigger pipe.

Ehm, the former Fowler president, resigned Feb. 1, saying he had not been paid.

The commission approved waivers from state regulations governing blowout protection, well spacing and hydrogen sulfide detection equipment.

Company chief executive Bob Fowler did not return a call for comment.

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