Natural gas collections on the clockNatural gas flaring and related emissions from oil wells in North Dakota are an acknowledged problem. If nothing else, it’s wasteful.
By: The Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
Natural gas flaring and related emissions from oil wells in North Dakota are an acknowledged problem. If nothing else, it’s wasteful.
Oil fields in North Dakota saw 34 percent of the natural gas produced in November flared. There’s a push to increase the system of pipelines for gathering natural gas, which will reduce the volume of flared gas.
Construction has begun on new projects in North Dakota that will process nearly 375 million cubic feet of natural gas a day.
High levels of flaring are not uncommon in new oil fields, such as in western North Dakota, where well drilling gets ahead of the development of pipelines necessary to capture and move natural gas to processing facilities. A national average for flaring, in mostly mature oil fields, would be about 6 percent.
North Dakota and the oil and gas companies operating here have been on track to address the natural flaring and emissions.
The Environmental Protection Agency on April 18 announced new rules the agency expects will reduce pollution from natural gas wells related to fracking, such as those in North Dakota.
Key provisions of the rules — related to pollution control equipment at the well head — will not go into effect until 2015. Until then, the EPA remedy is flaring.
The EPA move establishes a timeline for North Dakota to further address natural gas collection issues. Fortunately, the natural gas industry here is already gearing up.
The large volume of natural gas available, which makes it an important resource in pursuing energy independence, drives down the price.
That makes the cost of capturing the natural gas a bigger issue. In other words, a low price for natural gas doesn’t generate the revenue necessary to finance collection and processing.
But then comes the EPA, the issue of flaring, environmental concerns, the waste of a carbon-based resource and an orange pall cast across the oil patch.
North Dakota natural gas resources need to be collected and related emissions need to be controlled, whether the EPA sets rules or not. The federal deadline will add to the urgency.