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North Dakota governor warns on gas flaring

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 21, 2014 at 5:44 pm •  Published: May 21, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Gov. Jack Dalrymple told a huge oil industry conference Wednesday that North Dakota would no longer allow flaring of natural gas from oil wells in the Bakken region for longer than one year.

Speaking as part of the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, which has more than 4,000 people registered, Dalrymple said that North Dakota law allows flaring for one year after production at an oil well begins. After that period, the company must either seek an exemption to continue flaring or install equipment to capture the gas.

In the past, North Dakota has routinely granted exemptions to the flaring limit.

"Those days are over," Dalrymple said. "We're not going to do that anymore."

He said the state will require oil companies to present a "gas capturing plan" for each new well drilled in North Dakota, setting out how they will gather or use the natural gas one year after production. The hope is that the plans will prevent the need for extensions, a spokeswoman for the governor, Jody Link, said later.

Last year, members of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, a group that represents more than 500 companies working in the state's oil fields, formed a flaring task force to work toward a reduction in flaring with the state.

Dalrymple applauded a recently upgraded Hess gas plant in Tioga that is set to reduce the company's flaring rate in the state, but said more needs to be done on the issue.

"We're battling flaring on a daily basis," said Dalrymple, a Republican.

The North Dakota Senate last year rejected an attempt to legislate an end to flaring beyond one year, voting 34-13 against taking action. One lawmaker said during debate that the amount of gas wasted could heat 500,000 homes, and that photographs of North Dakota taken from space showed numerous flares illuminating the night sky. But other lawmakers said the booming oil industry should be given more time to develop the infrastructure to capture the gas.

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