HOUSTON – Ten class action lawsuits filed last week seek millions in lost royalties from some of the nation’s largest oil companies due to the flaring of natural gas in the Bakken oil fields. Reporter Clifford Krauss with the New York Times reports that the suit was filed by North Dakota mineral owners who believe they are losing money due to the fast expansion of oil production in the Bakken oil patch.The amount of flared gas in the Bakken has nearly tripled over the past two years – in fact the value of flared gas in North Dakota alone is estimated at $100 million a month. The companies that are being sued include Continental Resources, XTO Energy, SM Energy and Marathon Oil. The Times article points out that the state of North Dakota does allow companies to seek exemptions for flaring while they build additional pipelines, but the lawsuits accuse the companies of violating deadlines.
It is estimated that as many as 1,500 flare fires are currently burning at well sites across western North Dakota.