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North Dakota starts natural gas capturing plans

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 2, 2014 at 5:49 pm •  Published: June 2, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota oil companies must submit a gas capturing plan with their drilling permits beginning this month in an attempt to cut down the amount of natural gas that is burned off and wasted as a byproduct of oil production.

The state Industrial Commission, which regulates North Dakota's oil and gas industry, in March unanimously endorsed the proposal, which was self-imposed by the industry. The plan must include detailed information about when a well is slated for completion, its location and anticipated production. The plan also must contain a signed affidavit to show that gas-gathering companies have been consulted so that they may plan to meet the demand.

Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources, said the ultimate goal is to hook an oil well to a gas gathering line once the well goes into production.

"I think it's going to make a real difference," Helms said of the new rules that began June 1.

North Dakota drillers currently burn off, or flare, more than 30 percent of the gas because development of pipelines and processing facilities to capture it hasn't kept pace with oil drilling. Less than 1 percent of natural gas is flared from oil fields nationwide, and less than 3 percent worldwide, the U.S. Energy Department said.

North Dakota, which is producing about 1 million barrels of daily, also produces more than 1 million cubic feet of natural gas daily. The state is losing nearly $1 million monthly in natural gas tax revenue from flaring, state tax department records show.

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