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State to research underground storage of excess natural gas

September 18, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A research project approved by North Dakota regulators will explore the possibility of temporarily storing excess natural gas in underground rock formations.

Companies operating in the Bakken oil patch are struggling to meet state targets to reduce the wasteful flaring of excess natural gas that is a byproduct of crude oil production. The North Dakota Industrial Commission approved a $140,000 grant to study the potential of injecting unprocessed natural gas underground. It will be retrieved in two to five years, when the state has more infrastructure to transmit and process the gas, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

With a report due at the end of year, the grant from the state’s Oil and Gas Research Program will fund an evaluation at the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center. Researchers will examine the feasibility of injecting gas into the Broom Creek Formation, a porous rock layer the EERC also has been studying as a potential target for carbon dioxide storage.

Depleted oil and gas reservoirs will also be studied as potential gas storage options.

“We’ll get to work on it immediately,” said John Harju, the center’s vice president for strategic partnerships. “There’s a lot to do here in a really short period of time.”

Natural gas production in North Dakota hit a record 2.4 billion cubic feet per day in July. Oil patch operators flared 436 million cubic feet per day that month, also an all-time high. The industry missed the state’s gas capture target for the third consecutive month.

Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said that storing gas underground could be an innovative solution for the Bakken.

“The alternative is more flaring, or we really limit oil production growth,” Helms said. “And we really don’t want to do either one of those.”

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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