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North Dakota Reduces Natural Gas Flaring

North Dakota has taken the initiative to reduce the amount of natural gas the state is flaring each year.

Due to the increase in oil production North Dakota has recently seen, there is an increased volume of associated gas that is burned into the atmosphere which has the potential to negatively contribute to global warning. In an effort to avoid being a factor to global warming and to decrease how much natural gas is flared, the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) has established targets to be reached over the course of the next several years.

What is flaring?

Flaring involves the burning of the natural gas that is associated with the process of oil extraction from the Earth. While it makes sense that this gas associated with the drilled oil would be sold to consumers or used as an energy source, however, doing so would require additional money and resources to build, gather and transport the natural gas instead of burning it. So to avoid these extra expenses and to increase profits, most oil companies choose to flare the oil instead of taking the time to responsibly repurpose it.

What is being done to reduce flaring?

The NDIC is hoping to make a positive impact on the amount of gas flared by setting up ideal goals for reduction. The first target that was to be reached by Q4 2014 was a 26% decrease in flared natural gas. This practice will continue to decrease over the next five years, and by 2020 only 10% of the total natural gas in North Dakota is expected to be flared. As opposed to being flared, the gas will be sold or used at the site of production.

The NDIC is taking serious measures when it comes to decreasing the amount of natural gas flared and the impact it could be having on the Earth’s atmosphere. Those measures will include decreasing the production at the Bakken and Three Forks formations – North Dakota’s largest areas that produce oil – if necessary. Challenges are continuously met when dealing with alternatives to flaring, which include problems securing permission for landowners for connecting infrastructure to transport the gas, but the NDIC is working diligently to address these issues.

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