Natural gas flaring rules update considered

Sep 16, 2013

The state Industrial Commission is starting an in-depth discussion on reducing natural gas flaring in the Bakken.

Around 30 percent of the gas is flared.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms will be discussing the Industrial Commission's goals with industry representatives at the North Dakota Petroleum Council's meeting in Grand Forks.

"They're pretty simple goals," said Helms. "Number one, reduce the volume of gas flared. Number two, reduce the number of wells flaring. And number three, reduce the duration for which those wells flare."

Helms says regulators are looking at various policies to help accomplish the goals. He says regulators are hesitant to set a goal for how much gas is being allowed to be flared.

"Historically in the state, prior to the Bakken and Three Forks, flared about 2 to 3 percent of our natural gas," said Helms. "That number is acceptable in our minds. Something slightly higher might be in the short term. But in the long term, that's where we need to get."

Companies have been building new natural gas processing plants and expanding existing plants. And companies have been adding to the pipeline infrastructure -- not only for natural gas, but for crude oil and water.

"We just got the 2012 numbers," said North Dakota Pipeline Authority director Jason Kringstad. "We added 2,470 new miles of pipeline -- the highest year in recent history."

Kringstad says he hopes to see those kind of numbers in 2013 as well.