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Petroleum council task force addresses flaring

"Flaring" takes place after the well has been drilled and before it is put into operation, January 31, 2012, in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. Horizontal natural gas drilling fracking started in Pennsylvania several years ago, but has not yet been approved in New York. The issue has divided some friends and families around concerns for the water and environment. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

DICKINSON, N.D. -- A North Dakota Petroleum Council task force on flaring has met 11 times since forming last month, spokeswoman Tessa Sandstrom said Wednesday.

While working to find ways to reduce Bakken flaring of natural gas, the group will also work to inform stakeholders of the effort companies have already made to reduce flaring -- including investing $6 billion in infrastructure for getting gas from the wellhead to the marketplace, according to a release.

A big goal of the group is getting more pipeline in the ground.

"Probably the biggest group that we hope to reach out to is the landowners, because the sooner we can get those pipelines in the sooner we can ... capture natural gas and reduce flaring," Sandstrom said.

"We have to remember that the Bakken is still a very young play, and this is just one factor in why production has outpaced our ability to build the infrastructure needed," Terry Kovacevich, Marathon Oil regional vice president, said in the release.

"Furthermore, the Bakken is unlike any other play in the world and requires solutions specifically tailored to its geology, climate, landscape and resources," he said.

For rural areas, where pipelines are less likely, the task force will focus on other innovative ways to capture the gas, Sandstrom said.

The task force is a rare moment of collaboration among oil and gas companies.

"They are all competitors," Sandstrom said. "This isn't something they would normally do."

The task force, of more than 30 oil and gas companies, will report any "workable solutions" for reducing flaring to the North Dakota Industrial Commission later this year, Sandstrom said.