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Energy & Environment

ND Oil Industry looking for change on unfinished wells, and credits for gas capture

North Dakota’s oil industry wants the state Industrial Commission to relax its rules on oil well completions.

Right now, a company has one year from the issuance of the drilling permit to complete a well. The company can apply for an extension – but must pay another fee.

"Why would we want companies to be forced to spend money or complete the wells when the economics don't warrant it/" said North Dakota Petroleum Council president Ron Ness. "In today's economic of an over-supplied oil market, it makes no sense."

Ness says the industry wants flexibility.

"Just defer completions," said Ness. "So they sit on them two years. What's the difference?"

The state has around 900 uncompleted wells.

Ness says the industry wants the Commission to consider giving companies credits, if they do better in captruing natural gas than the state's gas capture goals.

"If I'm a company, and I'm way above the targets, but I get caught in a certain area where there's no line, I would have been stuck," said Ness. "Now, I have some credit. It's kind of like cell-phone credit. If I was ahead of the curve, I should have a couple of credits instead of being punished. And the punishment is severe."

The punishment for not meeting the goals could be a curtailing of production – until the company can get hooked up to a gas capture system.

The Industrial Commission could consider a credit system in October.

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