Flaring Off A Finite Resource : North Dakota Natural Gas best used to heat the outdoors.


Listen, I am a capitalist and have recently become a big fan of the Carbon War Room which creates market based solutions for creating climate change, that is, let’s create something that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels and makes money all at the same time, in fact, let’s stop relying so much on the extraction of oil from the most politically unstable places on earth, that would be a good thing as well.  So reading today’s NY Times “In North Dakota, Flames of Wasted Natural Gas Light the Prairie” I get a little worked up.

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.

Really, WTF.  I’m sure the companies operating would love to capture the gas to sell but as mentioned in the article the infrastructure is not there to capture it, pipelines and processing. So let’ s look at the math

Natural Gas is running at the about $4.00 per 1,000 cubic feet at the wellhead, and they are running 100 million cubic feet a day so 100 Million/1,000 * $4.00 = $400,000.  (multiplied by 365)  = $146 Million Dollars per year.

WTF.  And this is just from the commodity straight from the well head it does not count the economic impact of a new natural gas facility and the margins made by in between, etc.  Okay I am sure an infrastructure project to capture all this is not cheap, but talk about a shovel ready project with a revenue stream able to pay off investors.  But in a bid to extract as much oil as possible from the Bakken Field in North Dakota through hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling more and more and more gas will be released as a byproduct.

Why flare, because it’s easier and cheaper while extracting the more “valuable” oil from the fields.  So while scientist try to figure out how extract energy from wood pulp and the sun, algae and the like  myopia continues to claim more victims as we burn a precious, finite resource because it’s convenient.  Let’s put even more people to work in North Dakota building the infrastructure in a planned and smart way.  Wayne Schafer is quoted at the end of the article saying, “You can do it fast or you can do it right.”  or I’ll quote one of the construction managers we’ve done work for, “You can do something no ass, or you can do something full ass, just don’t do it half ass”

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