Claim: N. Dakota frackers flare (waste) 29% of gas produced

The Guardian reports:

The new study from the Ceres group of sustainable investors draws on official figures from the North Dakota Industrial Commission and reveals that the state’s oil and gas developers flared 29 per cent of the natural gas they produced during May 2013. The proportion of gas being flared has actually fallen from a peak of 36 per cent in September 2011, but the rapid expansion of the sector means that the total volume being flared is continuing to rise.

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10 thoughts on “Claim: N. Dakota frackers flare (waste) 29% of gas produced”

  1. “Investors are looking for producers and regulators to take more aggressive action to prevent the loss of this valuable fuel.”

    So it suddenly became valuable fuel at Guardian? It was the source of “carbon pollution” just a few days ago.

  2. Most of the fracking in North Dakota is for petroleum rather than gas. I dunno what it would take to harness the methane and put it to good use. Since the energy development field is a high-cost operation, I would think the developers would use the gas if they knew a good way to do so.

  3. It could be profitable if it was pure methane or a distillable mixture of hydrocarbons. But if it has a lot of sulfur in it, the cost of separation will exceed the retail value of the products. We need to know the composition of the flare gas before we can form an opinion on how good or bad it is to flare it.

    Since Guardian already has an opinion, and it seems to be favourable, I guess they will be welcome to have it.

  4. There is no way the oil/gas companies would waste anything valuable. The flare gas is obviously not cost effective to capture. Duh!

  5. It’s generally a mixture of hydrocarbons, mostly methane, CO2, water and varying amounts of H2S and traces of mercaptans. Sulfur removal is fairly easy and separation by a number of adsorption methods (mostly carbon adsorption) is pretty easy. The problems are the demand for equipment probably creates a waiting list for the installation, the lower cost of natural gas because of availability and you need some gas conveyance (pipeline) once you generate it. When I was looking into a relatively small landfill gas separation unit, the oil patch guys weren’t interested in talking to you because they had more work from fracking than they could handle. May take a while to use that gas.

  6. Apparently even North Dakotans think it is a problem. I have read the issue is with transportation. Not enough pipeline infrastructure to move the stuff out.

  7. Or regulators won’t let them build the infrastructure to efficiently transport the stuff out.

  8. Bob, thank you for the explanation. I understand the adsorption methods can be easy, but what do you do with the loaded adsorbent? Can it be recycled?

    I noticed that the very few of the landfill sites that do utilise the gas still have to flare some of it.

  9. If it isn’t viable ($$) due to the value of the gas and the cost to transport it out, it gets flared. Period.

  10. It might also be possible to reinject the flared gas to store for a more amenable market. I’m no expert on the geology so this might not be viable here.

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