State regulators are finding out that a rule created to make oil sites more environmentally friendly is creating a make or break situation for drilling in certain areas.
In fact, eliminating reserve pits may be influencing some companies to consider drilling in South Dakota instead.
Bowman county used to be the hotspot for oil in North Dakota.
It was the number one producer for years.
In fact it slid from the top spot in July 2008, falling behind Mountrail County, just after the oil industry figured out how to crack the Bakken.
Since then production in Bowman County has decreased.
"Bowman County has pretty much been asleep for a year and a half," says Director of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms.
No rigs are drilling in Bowman County today, but three were there recently.
Helms says he expects that number to pick up.
"That's in response to the industrial commission loosening the rules a little bit on reserve pits," says Helms.I don't know how the cost of a reserve pit compares to the cost of laying a natural gas pipeline to a remote well, and then constructing a gas processing plant to process the natural gas, but something tells me it's a lot more expensive. And thus: flaring or drilling. This is not rocket science.
By the way, I thought this was an interesting statistic:
South Dakota has had 19 oil wells drilled so far this year with a majority of them in Harding County.
South Dakota produces 1.6 million barrels of oil a year, which is what North Dakota produces in two days.I noted a lot of those wells on my most recent trip to North Dakota, driving straight through from the Dallas, Texas, area to the Bakken. I started noticing wells in Harding County, South Dakota, just before driving into North Dakota.