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North Dakota Natural Gas Flaring More Than Doubles in Two Years

Key findings:

  • In 2012 alone, flaring resulted in the loss of approximately $1 billion in fuel and the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent of adding nearly one million cars to the road.
  • Oil and gas developers flared 29% of the natural gas they produced during May 2013.

From the Executive Summary:
In its World Energy Outlook 2012, the International Energy Agency projected that the United
States would become the world’s largest oil producer by 2020, a position the U.S. last held in
the 1970s. This dramatic resurgence is being driven by technological advances like directional
drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which are unlocking shale gas and tight oil resources that
were previously uneconomic to recover.
This recent boom has been perhaps most evident in North Dakota, where oil production from
the state’s Bakken formation increased 40 fold between 2007 and mid-2013, from 18,500 to
760,000 barrels per day (bpd). In May 2012, North Dakota surpassed Alaska to become the
second-largest oil producing state in the U.S. after Texas.
The tremendous growth of unconventional oil production in North Dakota has also led to a rapid
rise in the production of associated natural gas. However, state authorities report that a large
percentage of this gas does not ultimately go to market. Nearly 30 percent of North Dakota gas
is currently being burned off, or flared, each month as a byproduct of oil production. Although
flaring natural gas produces less potent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than venting it
directly to the atmosphere, the practice is environmentally damaging, economically wasteful
and a potential threat to the industry’s long-term license to operate…

Bibliography:
Ryan Salmon and Andrew Logan
FLARING UP: North Dakota Natural Gas Flaring More Than Doubles in Two Years
CERES, July 2013

Ceres is a nonprofit organization mobilizing business leadership on sustainability challenges such as climate change and water scarcity. It directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of more than 100 investors with collective assets totaling more than $11 trillion.

See also:
Laura Beans, Fracking Flares Double In North Dakota. EcoWatch, Aug 2, 2013
Kieran Cooke, Flaring lights up North Dakota. The Daily Climate, Aug. 5, 2013

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