Plain Talk: Moving North Dakota’s oil industry toward being carbon neutral

Earlier this year Gov. Doug Burgum¬†raised a lot of eyebrows¬†in the political world by announcing a goal for North Dakota’s carbon-based industries, including oil and coal, to become carbon neutral.

Can we do it?

There are no magic bullets to achieving that goal, but there are some promising endeavors. On this episode of Plain Talk I discussed one of those with Kevin Black, CEO of Creedence Energy Services, and Marty Shumway, the technical services director of Locus Bio-Energy Solutions.

Shumway’s company has developed a biosurfactant, that could be made from agricultural products like canola and sugar from right here in North Dakota, that, in some instances, has improved the output of older oil wells by as much as 70%.

A pilot program to use the biosurfactant was funded by the North Dakota Industrial Commission, and the potential return on that investment, as measured by tax revenues for the State of North Dakota, can be calculated in the billions.

That’s a big deal for the oil industry, where more oil from any given well means more profits, but it’s a big deal from the perspective of lowering the environmental footprint of the oil industry as well. More from any one well means fewer wells are needed. It also means each well uses less energy to develop.

Energy development itself uses energy that often comes from carbon-based sources like oil or coal.

Again, there is no one thing we can do to achieve Gov. Burgum’s goal of carbon-neutral oil and gas industries, but there are many small things, and this endeavor seems to be one of them.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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