Methane Flaring Lights up Bakken Oil Fields

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Methane Flaring Lights up Bakken Oil Fields

Date: 05/24/2023     State: ND     Issues: Climate, Oil and Gas     Partner: Dakota Resource Council Airport Origin : Watford, ND    


Our overflights examined the extent of methane flaring in the Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota, and captured aerial imagery and video of the flaring. North Dakota ranks second in the nation for volume of natural gas wasted through venting, flaring, and leaks, and first in flaring intensity (7x greater than New Mexico, the next state on the list).

Flaring is the burning of methane into our atmosphere during oil production. Venting comes from an unlit flare. These practices waste an important resource and what could be approximately $275 million in US profits annually. In 2019 alone, $19 million was lost on Mandan Hidatsa Arikara (MHA) Nation lands. Flaring and venting release Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPS) like benzene and toluene and ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as xylene and methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases.

The MHA Nation in North Dakota, which sits on top of the Bakken Oil Play, faces grossly disproportionate health impacts from venting, flaring, with higher rates of hospitalization, respiratory and neurological problems, and disproportionate negative effects of climate change, and its citizens are losing financially when a saleable product goes up in smoke.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are finalizing rules surrounding methane waste and pollution, respectively. The BLM's current proposal fails to implement measures that would adequately eliminate pollution from flaring. The BLM and EPA must implement regulations to capture the now flared gas, creating millions in dollars per year in tax and royalty payments, and reduce routine flaring and venting by defining when short-term flaring should be utilized.

Click for photos from the sunrise flight on 5/24

Flight Images

Flight Location