Natural Gas Flaring:
Why should I care?
Where there is fracking, there is often natural gas flaring. Flaring is the act of burning off excess natural gas (methane) from oil wells when it can’t economically be stored and sent elsewhere. Flaring is also used to burn gases that would otherwise present a safety problem. But flaring from oil wells is a significant source of greenhouse gases. The World Bank estimated that 145 billion cubic meters of natural gas were flared in 2018; the equivalent of the entire gas consumption of Central and South America combined. Gas flaring also can negatively affect wildlife, public health, and even agriculture. The data we use is a product of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite, which produces the most comprehensive listing of gas flares worldwide. VIIRS data is maintained by the Earth Observation Group in the Colorado School of Mines’ Payne Institute for Public Policy.
SkyTruth’s Annual Flaring Volume Estimates map provides estimates of how much natural gas was flared from drilling activities in virtually any geographic area. It allows users to easily compare and download flare volume totals from 2012 through 2018 to observe trends. Residents, researchers, journalists, and others concerned about gas emissions in their city or study area can easily determine the sources of the problem using the latest data available, and how much gas has been flared.
SkyTruth’s Global Flaring Map shows a heatmap of nightly, infrared satellite detections of natural gas flaring across the entire planet, as seen by the VIIRS instrument. SkyTruth’s Global Flaring Map can help you:
- Demonstrate the tremendous amount of natural gas flaring around the world.
- Learn if flaring is a chronic problem in your community or places you care about.
- Track active drilling in gas-producing regions where flaring occurs only during the drilling and completion of wells.
- Verify when petrochemical facilities were flaring in order to aid in identifying the source of noxious air emissions polluting nearby communities.
- Hold companies accountable for wasting public and private resources through routine flaring.
- Inform public health research on the impacts of flaring on respiratory or other health issues.
Our latest work on natural gas flaring
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