Williston-based Nodak Oilfield Services is rolling out a flaring reduction device that stole a bit of limelight during the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s annual meeting recently.
The company brought an EcoVapor tower to the meeting, standing a few feet taller than a man, that caught the eye of North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms during his presentation.
The tower is among several strategies companies are shopping around in the Bakken right now, which propose to not only completely eliminate flaring, but monetize flares so that they make money for producers, and ultimately, royalty owners, too.
The EcoVapor Tower is a well-by-well solution that scrubs incoming natural gas to make it pipeline ready for gathering systems that take natural gas to a processing plant. Each tower can be customized for a given well’s gas stream, and the pipeline specs required for its destination.
“We can enable 100 percent gas capture, because we can purify these gas streams that are being captured at the well site, and we can remove things like oxygen and H2S from these gas streams,” EcoVapor President and CEO Jason Roe told the Williston Herald. “We have the ability to capture this gas, treat this gas, and then essentially turn what would otherwise be wasted gas or flared or combusted gas into profitably sold gas.”
EcoVapor isn’t the only one with a flaring solution that’s circling the Bakken right now. There’s also a Canadian Company called FlareCap, which offers to monetize flared gas by turning it into usable energy. And there’s Crusoe, which has already been here in the Bakken, using flares to power intense data computing operations, such as bitcoin mining.
The continued emphasis on ESG from Wall Street is one of the reasons the Bakken’s oil and gas producers are giving these strategies a serious look, as they seek ways to maintain high ratings for the investment capital they need to keep going.
Flared gas, Helms pointed out during the NDPC conference, is “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Eliminating flares would get rid of between 3 to 6 million cubic feet per day of methane emissions, based on July flaring statistics. Methane is considered a more intense greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
But there’s also another factor making flaring reduction strategies particularly attractive in the Bakken right now. North Dakota Senate Bill 2328 created a state tax credit of up to $6,000 per well for companies that implement a flare mitigation strategy, as a means of spurring innovative solutions to North Dakota’s rising volumes of gas.
NoDak and EcoVapor, in their press release announcing the product, mention the state’s tax credit specifically, and indicate it will be part of an aggressive marketing strategy.
“Operators are looking for new approaches that not only reduce flaring and emissions, but also generate more oil and gas revenue – the timing of this initiative couldn’t be better,” NoDak CEO Clint Hacker said. “We plan an aggressive rollout of the ZerO2 solution as a turnkey service to our existing customers and anticipate EcoVapor technologies will be a key factor in attracting new business.”
Producers who want to claim North Dakota’s flaring mitigation tax credit should find it an easy process, Helms told producers during the NDPC annual meeting. He has partnered with State Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger to streamline the process and make it as easy as to get as possible.
The key first step, Helms said, is contacting Allen Christensen, who is Production Auditing and Gas measurement Supervisor with the Oil and Gas Division. The North Dakota Industrial Commission will also require a sundry notice along the way, which the state will use to decide whether to certify a given well and the proposed flaring mitigation strategy as eligible for the credit.
Flaring mitigation may also take on additional significance down the road for the Bakken, if a methane tax proposed by Democrats makes it through the legislature. That tax has been proposed as part of the reconciliation bill that has the majority of the Biden administration’s climate agenda in it. The tax as currently proposed would in part be based on the greenhouse gas intensity for a barrel of oil in a given Basin. Reducing methane emissions would help reduce the carbon intensity for a barrel of Bakken oil.
“The really low hanging fruit on methane emissions in North Dakota is flare reduction,” Helms said, and that has been what he’s been telling those who ask whether he’s concerned about the Democrat’s tax proposal. “In July, we flared almost 300 million cubic feet per day. Based on flare efficiencies, that’s 3 to 6 million cubic feet per day of methane emissions that, with this credit, and the right policies in place, we can eliminate.”