Bakken natural gas flaring has risen over the past few years as drilling expanded across North Dakota and Eastern Montana. Flaring hit a peak at the end of 2008, declined through 2009, and has been increasing since that point. Currently, 30-35% of natural gas produced in North Dakota is flared.
Operators are focused on producing oil and have largely defaulted to waiting for infrastructure when it comes to natural gas. Oil accounts for approximately 90% of the production stream in a Bakken well and can be transported by truck or rail, in addition to pipelines. Natural gas, on the other hand, needs a pipe and in North Dakota it needs processing plants. Natural gas produced from the Bakken yields 8-13 gallons of NGLs per mcf (gpm).
Rich gas and a positive production outlook are why Oneok plans to add the Garden Creek III processing plant. When the plant is completed in 2015, the company will have almost 600 mmcfd of processing in the basin.