The director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority wants the Energy and Environmental Research Center at UND to look at how the chemical makeup of natural gas liquids changes over the life of an oil well.
"It's very high or rich in propane, butane and ethane," said Authority director Justin Kringstad.
In North Dakota’s Bakken and Three Forks formations, natural gas is a byproduct of oil drilling.
Kringstad said the question exists on whether this gas chemistry will change over time.
"When we're producing these long-term forecasts, is it appropriate to assume that what's happening when these wells first come on line is the same as what's going to be happening 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now," Kringstad said. "If there's any kind of change in that chemistry, that will greatly shift the forecast models and infrastructure needs and realities for the region."
Kringstad said it could affect efforts to attract the petrochemical industry to North Dakota.
"The petrochemical industry is the number one consumer of those natural gas liquids," Kringstad said. "As investors and companies look at North Dakota for opportunities, we need to have good, solid scientific data we can point to, and have a good understanding of this resource potential."
Kringstad said he plans to approach the state’s Industrial Commission this fall to fund that study.