The wasteful practice of flaring off natural gas from oil and gas fields is again making news, coinciding with a new release of SkyTruth’s Global Flaring Map that visualizes gas flaring activity around the globe. This map relies on the Nightfire data provided by NOAA’s Earth Observation Group, which has written extensively about their work detecting and characterizing sub-pixel hot sources using multispectral data collected globally, each night, by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) aboard the Suomi-NPP satellite. Read about the algorithm that creates Nightfire data here and methods for estimating flared gas volumes here.
SkyTruth’s enhanced map has these added features:
- NOAA has published two additional years of flaring data, allowing our map to extend back to March 2012.
- A location search box lets you go directly to a city, state, country, landmark, etc.
- Date range selection helps you limit the visualization to the time-frame of interest.
- You can identify your rectangular Area of Interest and download flaring data within that AOI (works best in Chrome browsers).
- We’ve caught up with NOAA’s daily download after adjusting to recent changes in their web security.
About our Global Flaring Map
Please read about some of the uses for this map and how SkyTruth processes NOAA’s data in this original post describing our map. If you don’t see a flaring detection you expected to see, consider the caveats: some flares don’t burn hot enough to be included in our dataset, they may not have been burning when the satellite passed overhead, the flare may not be frequent enough to make it past the 3 detection threshold, heavy clouds may have obscured the flare from the sensor, etc.
If you find this map useful, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
Why Flaring is In the News Again
In November 2016 the Interior Department announced a new Methane and Waste Prevention Rule to reduce wasteful flaring and leaks of natural gas from oil and gas operations on public and Indian lands. Although Congress tried repealing the rule after the 2016 elections, that effort failed to advance out of the Senate after a May 2017 vote.
Despite the Senate’s action to keep the methane rule, the Environmental Protection Agency just announced (as of 6/15/2017) they would suspend implementation of the rule for 90 days — an action leading environmental groups claim is unlawful.