SkyTruth releases a dynamic map of satellite data visualizing the wasteful practice of natural gas flaring around the world. The SkyTruth Global Flaring Visualization compiles nightly infrared data from the VIIRS Nightfire product produced by the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, and filters it to display gas flares associated with oil and gas production. See this paper published in Remote Sensing for more technical detail. The map is a direct result of a crowdfunded groundtruthing mission last year in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale where flares light up the night sky.
“This new tool makes the scale and frequency of flaring more comprehensible and less abstract,” said Paul Woods, Chief Technology Officer at SkyTruth. “Hopefully, enabling everyone to see where, when, and how often operators are flaring will create public pressure on government and industry to reduce the waste of this hard-won natural resource,” Woods continued.
Also released today, SkyTruth’s partners at Earthworks have produced a report on flaring in the Bakken and Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale, finding that North Dakota drillers have reported burning $854 million in natural gas since 2010 and that neither state independently tracks how much gas has been lost forever through flaring. Earthworks also calculated that the 130 billion cubic feet of natural gas burned in the Bakken and Eagle Ford Shale has produced the equivalent of 1.5 million cars’ emissions of carbon dioxide – a greenhouse gas.
SkyTruth’s flaring map puts these enormous numbers in perspective, and can enable regulators and citizen watchdogs to see if companies really are taking action to reduce the occurrence of flaring. Click below for more information and to see a full-screen version of the map.