North Dakota drillers focus on reducing gas flares

August 27, 2014

Regular readers of this blog are likely familiar with the rapid growth that has occurred in the domestic oil and gas industry. Drillers have now reached the point where they need to place an increased focus on efficiency and sustainability.

To understand why, it is important to pay close attention to the state of the industry in North Dakota. According to an article on NBC News, drillers in the state have been significantly more productive than what the existing pipeline infrastructure will allow. When those who are searching for crude oil strike natural gas, they often have difficulty directing that fuel to pipelines. Instead, they have no choice but to burn it.

This practice has become so common that, as the source notes, the landscape in North Dakota is "now marked by thousands of flares, open pits or steel pipes burning off excess natural gas."

North Dakota drillers reportedly burn off about 350 million cubic feet of natural gas each day, which is worth about $100 million each month. This is getting to the point where it is becoming a problem. State regulators are concerned not only about the loss of valuable gas, but also about the potential for additional pollution.

These worries are certainly not new. As this blog has mentioned previously, industry stakeholders all over the world are looking for sustainable ways to improve air quality. In some states in the U.S., drillers are being asked to abide by "good neighbor" standards and minimize their impact on those living nearby. Environmental consultants can help project stakeholders achieve these goals.