The director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority says he expects the percentage of natural gas being flared in North Dakota will be gradually reduced over the next several months.
"The thing that I watch from my office is how quickly we can get the wells connected to the gas gathering systems," said Justin Kringstad. "We're hoping that in the next 6-12 months, we'll see some pretty significant strides in how we get the wells connected, bringing that flaring percentage down."
Kringstad says while the amount of gas produced in the Bakken has gone up – the percentage of gas that’s being flared has remained constant – at about 30 percent. He says the Legislature also passed incentives for the companies to use natural gas for on-site electricity – and to power drilling rigs. He says that will help – especially with older wells that have been producing natural gas for a while.
"We have a lot of wells that have been flaring for quite some time," said Kringstad. "If you're a gas-gathering company, naturally you're going to go after the newer, high volume wells. So those alternative technologies will play an important role in capturing gas from the older wells."
Kringstad says as natural gas production is predicted to continue to rise, even after oil production peaks, the state will need more natural gas processing plants.
"We have five additional plants that are under construction or being expanded," said Kringstad. "As we go longer term -- 5 to 10 years out -- we'll need more plants."