NEW YORK — Oil drillers 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.
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.
“There’s a lot of shareholder value going up in flames due to flaring,” said Ryan Salmon, who wrote the report for Ceres. “Investors want companies to have a more aggressive reaction to flaring and disclose clear steps to fix the problem.”
The amount lost to flaring pales in comparison to the $2.21 billion in crude oil production for May in North Dakota.