BISMARCK, N.D. — Natural gas flaring at the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in western North Dakota has increased for the third consecutive month, raising concerns with state officials.
The capture of natural gas at well sites statewide was at 91 percent, but only at 79 percent on trust lands and 81 percent on fee lands, according to Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources.
"Up until three months ago, it was matching the statewide numbers but, beginning in March or April, you started to see them fall seriously behind," Helms told The Bismarck Tribune. "It's pulling the statewide average down quite a bit."
Restrictions on statewide flaring will go into effect Nov. 1. The current rate of flaring would be nearing the maximum limit.
Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Mike Fox said the tribe has attempted to end flaring on its lands with policies, but he said most have been ignored by oil companies.
"We have a tribal law that companies have one year, similar to the state, to flare to give them the opportunity to connect to oil pipelines," Fox said. "After that year, companies are supposed to pay royalties on what they're flaring."
Helms said the tribe has done well with its pipeline process. He noted that two pipelines were delayed by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs approval process, and one line was only recently approved after three years.