|Home||<< 1 >>|
Franklin, M., Chau, K., Cushing, L. J., & Johnston, J. (2019). Characterizing flaring from unconventional oil and gas operations in south Texas using satellite observations. Environ Sci Technol, 53(4), 2220–2228.
Abstract: Over the past decade, increases in high-volume hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas extraction in the United States have raised concerns with residents living near wells. Flaring, or the combustion of petroleum products into the open atmosphere, is a common practice associated with oil and gas exploration and production, and has been under-examined as a potential source of exposure. We leveraged data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Spectroradiometer (VIIRS) Nightfire satellite product to characterize the extent of flaring in the Eagle Ford Shale region of south Texas, one of the most productive in the nation. Spatiotemporal hierarchical clustering identified flaring sources, and a regression-based approach combining VIIRS information with reported estimates of vented and flared gas from the Railroad Commission of Texas enabled estimation of flared gas volume at each flare. We identified 43,887 distinct oil and gas flares in the study region from 2012-2016, with a peak in activity in 2014 and an estimated 4.5 billion cubic meters of total gas volume flared over the study period. A comparison with well permit data indicated the majority of flares were associated with oil-producing (82%) and horizontally-drilled (92%) wells. Of the 49 counties in the region, 5 accounted for 71% of the total flaring. Our results suggest flaring may be a significant environmental exposure in parts of this region.