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North Dakota gas flaring hits historic low

Posted at 10:47 AM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 12:47:29-05

In November, the state of North Dakota hit a new milestone in its fight against flaring in the Bakken oil fields.

From November through December of 2020, 94% of the gross natural gas produced from Bakken wells was captured.

During his February report, Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, pointed out that the 94% capture rate, exceeds the 91 percent goal set by the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

North Dakota's historical flaring high was set in September of 2011, when 36 percent of its natural gas production was flared into the atmosphere. As recent as 2019, North Dakota flared 19% of its natural gas production.

Helms congratulated the state's oil and gas industry for its hard work to bring the entire state into compliance with the commission's November 2020 goals. He credited the huge reduction in flaring, to new pipelines and infrastructure projects put in place to transport natural gas.

Helms' February report also pointed out the recent increase in the price of Bakken sweet crude. North Dakota light sweet was selling Friday at $48.25/ barrel, compared to the WTI price of 58.21/ barrel. Both prices represent a $15-$20 per barrel increase since this past November.

Helms said prices in the $45-$55 dollar range is what the industry needs to stimulate additional capital investment.

On the legal front, Helms pointed to April 9, 2021, as the new hearing date in the legal fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is seeking the closure of the pipeline, which transports 575,000 barrels of North Dakota crude per day to the Midwest.

The judge is allowing DAPL to continue operating while the legal fight over its federal permit plays out in court. Now, the Biden Administration has been granted a 60-day extension to review the case.

State officials said North Dakota stands to lose up to half a million dollars per day in lost taxes if the pipeline is shut down.