North Dakota predicts big boost in natural gas

  • Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 26, 2012 - 8:22 PM

The state already is No. 2 in the nation for oil production. A new report says natural gas output is expected to grow dramatically.

A projected massive increase in North Dakota's natural gas output by 2025 opens the door for an array of gas-related businesses to that state, a top state official says.

"There is a tremendous opportunity for value-added industry, whether petrochemicals, fertilizer or natural gas-fired electricity," said Justin Kringstad, director of the state's Pipeline Authority, which commissioned the first analysis of future natural gas production.

The report by Bentek Energy, released Wednesday, said the Williston Basin's production of natural gas is expected to grow nearly sixfold, to 3.1 billion cubic feet per day, by 2025.

That would exceed by 50 percent all the natural gas used in Minnesota on a January day, according to a CenterPoint Energy analysis of federal energy data.

"The study confirms that natural gas will around for a long time," Kringstad said in an interview.

The report said the expected growth in production "will push the basin into a more leading role in supply the U.S. natural gas market."

"It shows that the ratio of natural gas to oil will continue to increase as the wells age," Kringstad said.

North Dakota reported 6,954 producing wells in May -- drilled primarily for oil -- with an output of 639,000 barrels per day. The state recently became the second largest oil-producing state in the nation after Texas, which is also the leading gas producing state.

North Dakota is not a top gas producer. Federal data shows that the sixth-largest gas producing state, New Mexico, produced 3.6 billion cubic feet in April -- ahead of even the projected 2025 North Dakota output.

The Bentek study estimated that oil production would grow to more than 2 million barrels of oil per day by 2025.

Natural gas requires pipelines, and the report said North Dakota will need to expand gathering lines and other infrastructure to market the natural gas. One in every five wells now flares natural gas because of the lack of pipelines.

The report said that North Dakota gas should benefit from future tightened supplies of Canadian natural gas, leaving space on interstate pipelines to market Williston Basin gas in Chicago and the Upper Midwest.

David Shaffer • 612-673-7090

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