Meeting set to gather input on reducing gas flaring

BISMARCK – A special hearing is set for April 22 to provide input on reducing natural gas flaring to the Oil and Gas Division of the state Department of Mineral Resources.

The input gathered at the one-day hearing, as well as through written comments that can be submitted, will be considered as the North Dakota Industrial Commission moves forward with a newly adopted plan to reduce flaring.

The Industrial Commission’s goals are to reduce the volume of natural gas that is flared, reduce the number of wells that are flaring and reduce the duration of flaring from wells.

Commission members will consider revising rules that relate to curtailing oil production from the Bakken and Three Forks if flaring guidelines aren’t met. Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, said last month the rules are outdated and not being enforced as companies are being granted exemptions.

The hearing will be at 9 a.m. April 22 at the Department of Mineral Resources, 1000 E. Calgary Ave., Bismarck. Written comments may be submitted to brkadrmas@nd.gov through 5 p.m. April 21.

The department is seeking constructive comments about curbing flaring, said Alison Ritter, department spokeswoman.

“We want to make sure there is some testimony that would provide technical solutions,” Ritter said.

The department is seeking input on questions such as:

– What length of time should wells be allowed to produce at their maximum rate while flaring natural gas? Currently, most field rules allow a well to produce at its maximum rate for 60 days while flaring, and then restrict production according to a schedule after each additional 60 days.

“Typically, operators do seek an extension from that, and most of the time they are granted that extension because of infrastructure constraints,” Ritter said.

– What restrictions are appropriate for wells that are flaring but are connected to gas-gathering lines or when some of the gas is being used for a beneficial use?

– Should restrictions be adjusted for well economics? For example, if one operator is capturing 95 percent of its gas but it’s not economical to connect one well to gas-gathering lines, should special consideration be given to that operator or that region, Ritter said. If flaring restrictions were fully enforced, curtailing oil production would be damaging to the state revenue as well as private mineral owners, Ritter said.

The commission also will consider changing how it grants administrative approval of exemptions from the flaring rules and rules for wells that are not connected to gas-gathering lines or a beneficial use.

North Dakota flared 36 percent of its natural gas in January, but regulators say that figure was higher than usual because Hess Corp.’s Tioga gas plant had been offline since Thanksgiving. In October, before the plant went offline, 28 percent of gas was flared.

The steps adopted by the Industrial Commission should help the state reduce the percentage of natural gas being flared to 5 percent by 2020, Helms said last month.

More information about the commission’s new flaring policy can be found at www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas/presentations/NDIC030314_100.pdf.

2 thoughts on “Meeting set to gather input on reducing gas flaring

  1. The Industrial Commission claims that the percentage of gas being flared will be reduced but the real question is what volume is being flared and will that volume be reduced, remain constant or increase?

    Just because a well cannot produce at its maximum without flaring is no reason to allow for the wanton waste of natural gas. The oil can eventually be recovered. It isn’t going anywhere. The well should be properly planned to include a means of capturing and productively utilizing the energy the natural gas has.

  2. Flaring facilitates rapid development and production, rapid production leads to more of the original reservoir fluid produced in the gas phase and wasted. Not just the gas wasted, oil is being wasted too.

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