Natural gas is completely transforming Appalachia, but out West they do not know what to do with it. In North Dakota, exploration and production companies are almost exclusively searching for oil. Natural gas keeps getting in the way, but they may have found a partial solution.
Ever since the shale boom started, North Dakota has had a problem with flaring. Companies are drilling for oil, which is relatively economic to transport for long distances even without pipelines. They are also bringing up huge amounts of natural gas and they have nothing to do with it, so they wind up just burning it off. It is wasteful and bad for the environment but capturing natural gas and shipping it is much more expensive than capturing and shipping crude oil. The problem is not improving, with last month being the worst month for flaring of all time.
A new study by the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Carolina has found that injecting gas into local underground rock formations for later withdrawal could be a feasible strategy. These injections are expensive, but it might make economic sense, because oil producers have had to throttle down their production in order to meet the state’s goals for reducing flaring. The study found that about 25% to 74% of the injected gas could be retrieved five years later. That is still a bit of a waste.
In our region, things are different. Appalachia was also taken aback by the sudden boom in production in areas with limited infrastructure. A lot of flaring happened here too. The difference is that Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have a lot of people and a fair amount of industry that can use natural gas. Infrastructure is more rapidly catching up with production and flaring has receded as a concern around here.
Cimmaron Land has secured drilling rights for producers in this region all through the boom of the last decade. If you are interested in local opportunities, just call our Pennsylvania-based land experts at (412) 212-7517.