If the agency determines the companies could have avoided flaring natural gas as they produced oil, royalties could be due to the U.S. government, North Dakota's Three Affiliated Tribes or other beneficiaries.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal agency is deciding whether the oil industry owes royalties for flaring excess natural gas from federal and tribal oil wells.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that the Bureau of Land Management plans to review about 2,500 requests to flare from wells the agency manages in North Dakota and determine whether the flaring was avoidable.

If the agency determines the companies could have avoided flaring natural gas as they produced oil, royalties could be due to the U.S. government, North Dakota's Three Affiliated Tribes or other beneficiaries for flaring on federal wells dating back as far as five years.

Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Mark Fox says the BLM has a responsibility to review requests to flare and called the agency's process "way overdue."