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Multisatellite Imaging of a Gas Well Blowout Enables Quantification of Total Methane Emissions

Cusworth, Daniel H. and Duren, Riley M. and Thorpe, Andrew K. and Pandey, Sudhanshu and Maasakkers, Joannes D. and Aben, Ilse and Jervis, Dylan and Varon, Daniel J. and Jacob, Daniel J. and Randles, Cynthia A. and Gautam, Ritesh and Omara, Mark and Schade, Gunnar W. and Dennison, Philip E. and Frankenberg, Christian and Gordon, Deborah and Lopinto, Ettore and Miller, Charles E. (2021) Multisatellite Imaging of a Gas Well Blowout Enables Quantification of Total Methane Emissions. Geophysical Research Letters, 48 (2). Art. No. e2020GL090864. ISSN 0094-8276.

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Incidents involving loss of control of oil/gas wells can result in large but variable emissions whose impact on the global methane budget is currently unknown. On November 1, 2019, a gas well blowout was reported in the Eagle Ford Shale. By combining satellite observations at different spatial and temporal scales, we quantified emissions 10 times during the 20‐day event. Our multisatellite synthesis captures both the short‐term dynamics and total integrated emissions of the blowout. Such detailed event characterization was previously not possible from space and difficult to do with surface measurements. We present 30‐m methane and carbon dioxide plumes from the PRISMA satellite, which let us estimate flare combustion efficiency (87%). Integrating emissions across all satellites, we estimate 4,800 ± 980 metric tons lost methane. Blowouts occur across the globe and multisatellite observations can help to determine their pervasiveness, enable corrective action, and quantify their contribution to global methane budgets.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemTROPOMI data ItemWRF‐CHEM model code
https://prisma.asi.itRelated ItemPRISMA data
https://prismauserregistration.asi.itRelated ItemRegistration for PRISMA data data
Cusworth, Daniel H.0000-0003-0158-977X
Duren, Riley M.0000-0003-4723-5280
Thorpe, Andrew K.0000-0001-7968-5433
Pandey, Sudhanshu0000-0001-5938-385X
Aben, Ilse0000-0003-2198-0768
Varon, Daniel J.0000-0002-3207-5731
Jacob, Daniel J.0000-0002-6373-3100
Randles, Cynthia A.0000-0003-1442-1992
Omara, Mark0000-0002-8933-1927
Schade, Gunnar W.0000-0003-4327-0839
Dennison, Philip E.0000-0002-0241-1917
Frankenberg, Christian0000-0002-0546-5857
Miller, Charles E.0000-0002-9380-4838
Additional Information:© 2020 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Issue Online: 18 January 2021; Version of Record online: 18 January 2021; Accepted manuscript online: 06 December 2020; Manuscript accepted: 19 November 2020; Manuscript revised: 04 November 2020; Manuscript received: 21 September 2020. The authors thank Mike Smith at the Devon Energy Corporation for providing operator information and insights regarding this blowout event. Portions of this work were undertaken at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with NASA. Some of the work was supported by NASA's Carbon Monitoring System program. This research contains Copernicus Sentinel data 2019. S. Pandey is supported through the GALES (Gas LEaks from Space) project (Grant 15597) by the Dutch Technology Foundation, which is part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). WRF simulations were carried out on the Dutch National supercomputer Cartesius maintained by SurfSara ( The authors thank colleagues at Planet Labs for tasking SkySat in response to this event. Data Availability Statement: TROPOMI data are available at WRF‐CHEM model code is available at PRISMA data are publicly available to registered users at Registration is free and can be obtained at VIIRS data are available at
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gas LEaks from Space (GALES)15597
Dutch Technology FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:blowout; carbon dioxide; combustion; methane; satellites
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210202-094815130
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Cusworth, D. H., Duren, R. M., Thorpe, A. K., Pandey, S., Maasakkers, J. D., Aben, I., et al. (2021). Multisatellite imaging of a gas well blowout enables quantification of total methane emissions. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2020GL090864.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107848
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:02 Feb 2021 18:57
Last Modified:02 Feb 2021 18:57

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