North Dakota lawmakers continue holding hearings and debating the merits of energy bills to create incentives for less associated gas flaring at the wellhead and to provide tax relief for oil and gas producers, a spokesperson for the state Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) told NGI's Shale Daily Monday.
Bills addressing tax changes and flaring are still active, the spokesperson said, and they are keeping industry leaders such as Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC), bouncing from positions of opposition in some cases and support in others.
Ness recently told lawmakers at a Senate Finance and Taxation Committee hearing that earlier attempts to simplify and restructure the state's oil taxes have become more complex and costly with amendments tacked on through the legislative process, which ends May 1 (see Shale Daily, March 18).
Meanwhile, DMR Director Lynn Helms recently told local news media on the flaring bills (HB 1134 and SB 2370) that the senate version would offer property tax exemptions for gas gathering systems.
"We're tracking that one and testifying in support of that legislation," Helms said. "Both of these [flaring] bills will push some of these marginal technologies over the top and make it possible for people to implement things like liquids stripping."
Helms said that there are major hurdles under existing regulations if flare gas gathers want to put equipment on an operator's wellhead locations.
"We need to incentivize that whole thing for both operators and the ones who run these flare gas utilization processes."
Helms also applauded HB 1134 for providing incentives for more gathering systems. "It may not do anything more than offset the rising costs of getting pipeline easements, but that has become big business in western North Dakota."