With winter upon us and the temperatures dropping, there is one bill I will dread paying every month until winter is over. The bill I am referring to, is the one that pays for my use of natural gas. My home is heated with natural gas. The thermostat is watched closely to help keep the costs down while not allowing my toes to become frostbitten. What bothers me the most when paying this bill, is the amount of natural gas being wasted by the companies in North Dakota currently drilling for oil. The obscene amount of natural gas being wasted could be harnessed. These companies need to slow down on their quest for oil and the almighty dollar and focus on what is being lost now and could be lost for future generations.
Oil and natural gas are products in high demand on a daily basis worldwide. To this day, new techniques and machinery are still being developed to help increase the production of crude oil. The problem with the current method being used is the amount of natural gas being wasted to harness the shale oil from the wells. The process I am referring to is called hydraulic fracturing. It is more commonly known as fracking. Fracking has become a very controversial topic in the last few years due to increased interest to drill for oil in North Dakota.
Fracking was first used in the 1860’s to break up rocks containing shale. Crude oil comes from the shale formations in the deep in the ground. The process was reinvented a number of ways over the years to fine tune the most productive result. The current process consists of water and chemicals being pumped down the drilled well at high pressure. The high pressure fractures the rocks allowing natural gas to escape. Some wells are specifically drilled to harness the natural gas. Most of the new wells are being drilled to collect oil from the shale. There is a big issue with the method currently being used in North Dakota. The natural gas being produced while getting the oil is not being harnessed for future use.
Instead of capturing the natural gas leaking from the wells, the natural gas is set on fire to burn it off. This process is called flaring The natural gas being burned is wasted in lieu of the more profitable oil they would rather put in barrels. How much is being wasted in North Dakota alone? The Wall Street Journal states, “In April alone, such wells burned 10.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the state, valued at nearly $50 million,” (Dawson, 2014). The amount of natural gas being wasted is staggering. I am surprised those companies are letting $50 million a month in profits literally go up in smoke.
Texas is the largest producer of oil currently in the United States. Texas has managed to drastically reduce the amount of natural gas being wasted. Chester Dawson adds, “But while Texas captures all but 1% of the natural gas produced, North Dakota burns 30% of its output,” (2014). There needs to be higher restrictions on what is allowed to be wasted. Companies making their fortunes this way need to be held accountable for the waste. These companies need to slow down long enough to incorporate proper piping and storage to eliminate the waste of natural gas. In the race to get the most oil, in the fastest way, for the most profit, we will all eventually pay the consequences. Our planet only has so many natural resources. When these resources are gone, they cannot be replaced.
Wall Street Journal Article Link:
Wikipedia Link About the History of Hydraulic Fracturing: