Energy / Hydraulic Fracturing

Much of North Dakota’s natural gas is going up in flames

Gas flaring near Keene, N.D. Analysts estimate that almost 30 percent of the gas being produced in the state is burned off.

Gas flaring near Keene, N.D. Analysts estimate that almost 30 percent of the gas being produced in the state is burned off.

KEENE, ND — “A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state’s fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.

North Dakota’s oil boom isn’t just about oil; a lot of natural gas comes out of the ground at the same time. But there’s a problem with that: The state doesn’t have the pipelines needed to transport all of that gas to market. There’s also no place to store it.

In many cases, drillers are simply burning it.

‘People are estimating it’s about $1 million a day just being thrown into the air’ says Marcus Stewart, an energy analyst with Bentek Energy. Stewart tracks the amount of gas burned off — or flared — in the state, and his latest figures show that drillers are burning about 27 percent of the gas they produce.

While that percentage has been declining, Stewart says the overall amount of wasted gas is still rising as more oil wells are drilled.”

— Jeff Brady, National Public Radio

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