Oil producers are allowing nearly a third of the natural gas they drill in North Dakota's Bakken shale fields to burn off into the air, with a value of more than $100 million per month, according to a study to be released Monday.The sheer amount of wasted energy is alarming:
Remote well locations, combined with historically low natural gas prices and the extensive time needed to develop pipeline networks, have fueled the controversial practice, commonly known as flaring. While oil can be stored in tanks indefinitely after drilling, natural gas must be immediately piped to a processing facility.
Flaring has tripled in the past three years, according to the report from Ceres, a nonprofit group that tracks environmental records of public companies.
Every day, more than 100 million cubic feet of natural gas is flared this way — enough energy to heat half a million homes for a day.Two million tons of carbon dioxide every year? Is it any wonder this happened last week?
The flared gas also spews at least two million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, as much as 384,000 cars or a medium-size coal-fired power plant would emit, alarming some environmentalists.