Gas Producers Hitting the Target
Friday, December 10, 2021The rate of natural gas flaring in North Dakota declined to an average of 7.5% this year through September, with producers hitting the 91 percent natural gas capture target all but one month over the past year and a half.
Natural gas production fell rapidly in early 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, declining from 3.2 billion cubic feet per day in March to 1.9 just Bcf/day in May 2020. However it returned to pre-pandemic levels almost as rapidly, reaching 2.9 Bcf/day by October of last year. From April 2020 to September 2021, producers met the state gas capture target for every month except July 2021.
The ND Industrial Commission adopted natural gas capture targets in July 2014 in response to increased natural gas flaring in the state’s Bakken and Three Forks formations. The rapid development of crude oil production the past decade outpaced the ability of regional infrastructure to process and transport associated natural gas. Flared natural gas produced from oil wells increased as a result of inadequate gathering and processing infrastructure, with more than 30% of the natural gas produced in North Dakota flared at one point in 2013.
Meeting the capture targets required a buildout of natural gas gathering lines to transport natural gas from wells to processing plants and a buildout of the processing plants that remove impurities and heavier hydrocarbons from the natural gas. The ND Industrial Commission reports that natural gas processing capacity in the state increased to 3.4 Bcf/d in 2020, and is expected to exceed 4.0 Bcf/d by the end of this year.
Expanded capacity to move natural gas liquids (NGL) out of the state has further improved the state's midstream infrastructure. NGLs must be separated from the raw natural gas before it can enter interstate pipelines. Without an outlet for NGLs, natural gas processing plants cannot process raw natural gas, but according to EIA statistics, the capacity to move NGLs out of North Dakota increased from 60,000 barrels per day in 2013 to more than 580,000 bbl/day as of September 2021.
Click here to see statistics on gas flaring and other production information.