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The percentage of natural gas being flared in North Dakota’s Williston Basin dropped a bit in March.

It was reduced to 33 percent – from a high of 36 percent in the previous winter months.

State mineral resources director Lynn Helms says the Hess natural gas processing plant – which had been down for repair and expansion – was back on line by the end of March – and that helped. But Helms says he expects to see flaring further reduced this summer, because new rules that take effect June first will require new wells to have gas capture plans.

BLM writing new rules on natural gas flaring

May 10, 2014
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The federal Bureau of Land Management is working on new rules to reduce or prevent the flaring of natural gas from wells drilled on federal lands.

The BLM held a hearing in Dickinson to gather comments on the situation. In North Dakota, more than a third of the natural gas is flared – and on the Fort Berthold Reservation, the percentage is much higher.

Deputy Interior Secretary Michael Connor says BLM is just at the start of the rule making process. He says there are a number of issues to work through.

Liquid natural gas plant coming to Tioga

May 7, 2014
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

It’s the first of its kind for North Dakota.

North Dakota LNG is building a liquefied natural gas processing plant in Tioga. The company says the first phase will be on-line this summer, producing 10,000 gallons per day of LNG. Then, in 2015, another 66,000 gallons per day will be added.

Company CEO Pat Hughes says initially, the LNG will be used specifically by the oil industry.

"One is to supplement the use of diesel fuel on drill rigs," said Hughes. "The second is to use LNG in the fracking process."

New natural gas processing plant in the works

May 2, 2014

Another natural gas processing plant is being proposed for western North Dakota.

One OK (one-oak) wants to build a 200 million cubic feet per day facility 13 miles southwest of Watford City. Public Service Commission president Brian Kalk says the application was received in April.

The Public Service Commission has okayed Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s plans to add two more 45-megawatt natural gas turbines to its Lonesome Creek station near Watford City.

That brings to 135 megawatts the amount of power from that station. It’s a “peaking” plant – that will not be running all the time, but will kick in as needed.

WBI continues work on natural gas pipeline

Jan 31, 2014

A subsidiary of Bismarck-based MDU Resources Group says it is beginning the next phase in a big natural gas pipeline project.

The Dakota Pipeline would be a 375-mile line that would run from McKenzie County to eastern North Dakota, just south of Emerson, Manitoba. It will carry 400 million cubic feet of processed natural gas each day. It will cost $650 million.

Agreement reached in MDU natural gas rate case

Dec 31, 2013

The Public Service Commission and MDU have reached an agreement on how much the utility can raise its natural gas rates – but there’s still work to be done on the actual rates themselves.

The PSC approved the agreement.

MDU had asked for $6.8 million, or a 6.4 percent increase. Under the agreement, customers will pay another $4.2 million, an increase of just under 4 percent. Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says it may seem strange to customers – that MDU is looking to raise rates when the cost of natural gas has gone down.

Dalrymple: We're solving the flaring problem

Dec 27, 2013

Gov. Jack Dalrymple says North Dakota has made significant progress in solving the problem of natural gas flaring.

The gas is a byproduct of oil development in the Bakken.

The state used to flare about a third of that gas. Now flaring is under 30 percent – and Dalrymple says as gas processing plants expand and more gathering systems are built, flaring will further decrease. He says the challenge is keeping up with development.

"Every day, there's a new well that comes in," said Dalrymple. "It's a chase."

The Public Service Commission has approved the siting for a 6 and a half mile natural gas pipeline in Divide and Burke Counties.

The twist is – this pipeline already exists.

The line is owned by Hiland Operating. It was built in 2009, and went into service in 2010. Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says Hiland originally thought it didn’t need to go through the siting process. But she says the company learned after-the-fact that it did have to go through that process.

Flaring task force report delayed

Dec 17, 2013

A task force report on the flaring of natural gas will be delayed until the end of January.

The task force is looking at ways to reduce flaring. It was supposed to report to the state Industrial Commission this week. But state mineral resources director Lynn Helms says the report will be given January 29th.

"They took on a bigger task than they anticipated," said Helms. "When they held the summit in September, they expected one or two dozen people to show up. They had over 60. It really sized up the problem for them."