Natural gas prices skyrockets, will wells and fracking follow?

Natural gas is burned off next to an oil well being drilled at a site near Tioga, North Dakota on August 23, 2011.

If you were to fly over the Bakken natural gas fields of North Dakota at night you would see huge spires of flame shooting out of the ground.

"It just looks like a bunch of flares going up into the night sky. It's quite dramatic," says Charles Ebinger, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Those flares are the result of natural gas being burned simply because we don't have the infrastructure to get that gas to market.

"So we have to invest literally millions of dollars in new pipeline infrastructure," says Ebinger.

The rise in natural gas prices provides incentive to hire the engineers and construction workers needed to build those pipelines.

"There's a range of natural gas producing opportunities and they are progressively unlocked as prices get higher," says Michael Levi, the author of the The Power Surge. He says the increase in production will be gradual.

Gas producers who capped their wells were waiting for the price of gas to rise. Now that natural gas is above $4, those wells are getting uncapped. And if prices stay high expect to see increase in new wells being fracked.

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.

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