North Dakota regulators give Bakken producers extension to meet flaring requirements

The North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) gave the oil and gas industry 10 extra months to reduce the amount of associated natural gas flared at oil wells, citing industry’s comments that pipeline construction delays have made it all but impossible to meet existing targets.

The three-member NDIC voted unanimously Sept. 24 to change the date when companies must capture 85% of gas produced from their wells to Nov. 1, 2016.

The extension also pushed back potential penalties for companies, including forced reductions in oil production and gave contractors more time to expand gas-gathering systems.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple said, “The industry’s presentation has some very real reasons why the goal has become more difficult. Many of these items they’ve mentioned realistically could not have been expected.”

Industry representatives said some problems stemmed from regulatory delays to construct Hess Corp. and Oneok pipelines.

In June 2014, NDIC imposed a series of four increasingly tighter requirements for how much gas can be flared. The state’s oil companies had successfully met those goals, collecting 80% of produced gas in July, which was higher than the 77% requirement.

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