North Dakota is “turning the corner” on the volumes of natural gas flared despite the relatively high percent of associated gas that is still being burned at the wellhead, state officials recently told NGI.

Coming off the most recent report from the state oil and gas division that indicated flaring was at 30% at the end of October, North Dakota Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad said things are better because more wells are getting connected faster.

As of the most recent reporting period at the end of October, there were 1,468 new wells connected, said Kringstad, who noted that in October alone 153 new wells were connected, compared with 109 for the same month last year.

For 2012, there has been the equivalent of 130 MMcf/d of gas processing capacity added in North Dakota. Kringstad said at the end of 2011 there were nearly 4,000 gas wells connected to gathering systems (3,974) and as of Oct. 31 that total was 5,253, accounting for 900 MMcf/d of processing capability.

The 30% of gas now being flared represents 254 MMcf/d, according to a spokesperson in the state’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). “We are still seeing a trend downward, even though it’s slight,” the spokesperson said. “There won’t be a sharp drop-off; it’s going to stair-step down from (DMR Director Lynn) Helms’ best estimates for the next decade.”

There is another several hundred MMcf/d of processing plant capacity either under construction or planned to start construction early next year, according to Kringstad. “The biggest challenge regarding gas flaring to make an impact is to continue to get wells connected.”

Charting the connections showed a steep increase this year, and the state is getting ahead of the curve, he noted.

“The more companies continue to invest and build, the quicker we can see [the flaring numbers] continue to go down,” said the DMR spokesperson. “There is going to be a real push this upcoming legislative session to see what can be done to continue to curb flaring.”

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