If you take a drive through oil country in western North Dakota at night, you will see hundreds of places where natural gas is being flared (or burned) off. This is because drilling activity continues to surpass the same industry’s ability to effectively capture, process, utilize, and export the gas. ND Pipeline Authority director Justin Kringstad recently reported that the state is falling short of its 88% goal by capturing only 83% of natural gas. Remaining gas is flared in order to allow continued oil production. While efforts are underway to meet the state goal through additional processing capacity and additional pipelines to transport natural gas liquids out of state. Still, to meet future goals, significant additiona investment in infrastructure will be required.
Meanwhile, many communities within North Dakota have no access to natural gas or suffer from shortages and farmers ran short of propane to dry their corn. In some circumstances, it may not be economically feasible to extend delivery infrastructure, but for other communities natural gas availability offers the potential for economic growth. Recently, State Legislators like Rep. Mike Brandenberg, Rep. Alisa Mitskog, Sen. Jim Dotzenrod, and Sen Terry Wanzek have discussed investing in distribution and delivery to meet farm and community needs. We are encouraged that state leaders are considering how to convert what is being wasted into a driving force to improve our state.