Learning from Nighttime Observations of Gas Flaring in North Dakota for Better Decision and Policy Making

Payne Institute Student Researcher Rong Lu, Faculty Fellow Jennifer L. Miskimins, and Earth Observation Group Researcher Mikhail Zhizhin write that in today’s oil industry, companies frequently flare the produced natural gas from oil wells. The flaring activities are extensive in some regions including North Dakota. Besides company-reported data, which are compiled by the North Dakota Industrial Commission, flaring statistics such as count and volume can be estimated via Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite nighttime observations. Following data gathering and preprocessing, Bayesian machine learning implemented with Markov chain Monte Carlo methods is performed to tackle two tasks: flaring time series analysis and distribution approximation. They help further understanding of the flaring profiles and reporting qualities, which are important for decision/policy making.  March 3, 2021.