Go-ahead given on natural gas plantsConstruction of new natural gas processing plants should help cut down on natural gas waste, which now equals more than one-quarter of North Dakota’s gas production, a state regulator said Friday. “We’re flaring enough gas ... to heat 1,000 North Dakota homes for a year, every day,” Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer said.
By: By Dale Wetzel, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Construction of new natural gas processing plants should help cut down on natural gas waste, which now equals more than one-quarter of North Dakota’s gas production, a state regulator said Friday.
“We’re flaring enough gas ... to heat 1,000 North Dakota homes for a year, every day,” Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer said.
Natural gas is a byproduct of oil production, which has been booming in western North Dakota.
Oil output averaged almost 360,000 barrels daily in March, the most recent month for which figures were available. That is triple the output of five years ago, the state Department of Mineral Resources said. Analysts say production could double again in four to seven years.
Natural gas output has been rising in similar fashion. In March, the state’s output averaged 356.3 million cubic feet daily. North Dakota homes typically use about 120,000 cubic feet of natural gas each year, state Public Service Commission statistics show.
Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, said this week that 27 percent of the state’s gas production is being “flared,” or burned off, because development of the pipelines and processing facilities needed to handle it has not kept pace with production.
The Public Service Commission this week approved construction of two natural gas processing plants, each capable of handling 100 million cubic feet per day, about 16 miles northwest of Williston in Williams County, in northwestern North Dakota.
Bear Paw Energy LLC, which is part of Oneok Partners LP, based in Tulsa, Okla., is developing the plants. It expects to have both finished by April 2013, company spokesman Brad Borror said Friday.
Bear Paw is also building a third processing plant, also capable of handling 100 million cubic feet, near Watford City in neighboring McKenzie County. It should be finished by year’s end, Borror said.
Bear Paw is also expanding its pipeline network to handle the increased processing capacity. Cramer said the two Williams County plants will cost about $273 million to build.
The company already has about 4,000 miles of natural gas gathering lines in North Dakota, he said. The company has been “quite aggressive” in expanding its capacity for processing natural gas, he said.
“Everybody is doing their best to build this infrastructure,” Cramer said.