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North Dakota Flare Plan Rules Take Effect

As part of a joint industry-state government effort to curb flaring of associated gas at the wellhead, Monday marked the start of new requirements in North Dakota calling for a gas capture plan for each new drilling permit submitted to the Department of Mineral Resource (DMR) oil/gas division.

Earlier in the year the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which oversees oil/gas development through the DMR, adopted new permitting requirements aimed at flaring (see Shale Daily, March 5).

The new requirements apply to applications submitted beginning June 2, a DMR spokesperson told NGI's Shale Daily. There was a large upswing in permits last month seemingly from operators who wanted to get their applications in ahead of the new requirements for gas recovery plans.

There were more than 300 permit applications in May, the DMR spokesperson said, compared with 220 in April and 135 in March. "We probably will see a bit of a dip in permit applications at first because we did see a large amount of applications come in during May," the spokesperson said.

As of early on Monday there were no new permit applications, according to DMR. Any permits approved today more than likely were received before the new requirement and don't include gas capture plans, the spokesperson said.

"However, a few of the [larger] companies -- XTO, Whiting Petroleum Corp. Hess and ConocoPhillips -- began submitting gas capture plans ahead of the [June 1] deadline to begin to work out 'kinks' in the state-driven process.

"If a permit is received today that does not have a GCP [capture plan], it will be considered incomplete and the operator will be notified to submit the plan before permit processing proceeds."

At the recent Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, both industry and state officials indicated that they expected the new requirements to help drive flaring down to 10% or lower, compared to its current 30% level for the amount of associated gas being burned off during crude oil production (see Shale Daily, May 27).

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