Industry says it's working on solutions for the natural gas flaring issue

Oct 23, 2013

An oil and gas industry task force has been meeting to find ways to reduce the amount of natural gas being flared in the Bakken.

About 30 percent of the natural gas is being flared. Industry leaders say the problem used to be a shortage of natural gas processing plants.

Task force member Lance Langford -- an executive with Statoil -- says that issue is being solved. But he told the state Industrial Commission there's a different problem now.

"Now today, the major problem is gathering," said Langford. "Gathering the gas and moving it to the processing plants."

Langford says industry has also come up with some ideas for alternative uses for the gas – including electricity to power the drilling rigs and replacement of diesel fuel.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple chairs the Industrial Commission. He says those alternatives are great ideas – and should be pursued.

"But as I look at the numbers, I don't see that that's going to get us there," Dalrymple said. "I think we need a couple of big things to happen."

Dalrymple suggested a new interstate pipeline to get the raw gas to other processors, as well as seeking interest in more in-state processing from other companies. One OK and Hess are the major natural gas processors in North Dakota.

"The growth in production is racing ahead, even as we talk," said Dalrymple. "We're still flaring 30 percent."

The task force says it will be back with some recommendations after the first of the year.

Members of an industry task force on reducing natural gas flaring meet with the state Industrial Commission at the state Capitol in Bismarck.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public