No. If a settlement cannot be reached after an operator provides written notice of its intent to drill and supplies the surface owner with a copy of the statute stating his/her right to damages, the operator can move in and begin operations after 20 days have lapsed. The surface owner will still be paid for damages and, hopefully, the oil company and surface owner can come to an agreement. If not, the surface owner has the right to sue in a court of law.
No. The flaring process is designed to result in emission of mostly water vapor and carbon dioxide with very minor amounts of sulfur dioxide (below permitable source levels as defined by EPA).
This is not likely. The cost of leases (including lease bonus and royalties) has skyrocketed with the success of horizontal drilling in unconventional oil plays. Additionally, the cost of drilling in North Dakota has always been more expensive and is rising quickly with 1,280 acre spaced wells costing nearly $9,000,000. Also, the cost of operations in North Dakota is significantly higher than other areas of the country because of weather alone, and the North Dakota tax structure is higher than our competitors', making it more expensive to do business in North Dakota and thus lowering the return on investment.
The lease is a binding contract and typically remains in effect until the primary term expires (assuming all bonus and rentals were timely and properly paid). If production is obtained during the primary term, the typical lease provisions provide it is extended for so long as oil and/or gas are produced.
The Bakken formation thickness varies from about 11 feet at the erosional edge, or subcrop, to about 180 feet just east of Tioga at the depositional center.