Nitrogen Oxide Emissions from U.S. Oil and Gas Production: Recent Trends and Source Attribution

Barbara Dix*, Joep de Bruin, Esther Roosenbrand, Tim Vlemmix, Colby Francoeur, Alan Gorchov-Negron, Brian McDonald, Mikhail Zhizhin, Christopher Elvidge, Pepijn Veefkind, Pieternel Levelt, Joost de Gouw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
100 Downloads (Pure)


U.S. oil and natural gas production volumes have grown by up to 100% in key production areas between January 2017 and August 2019. Here we show that recent trends are visible from space and can be attributed to drilling, production, and gas flaring activities. By using oil and gas activity data as predictors in a multivariate regression to satellite measurements of tropospheric NO2 columns, observed changes in NO2 over time could be attributed to NOx emissions associated with drilling, production and gas flaring for three select regions: the Permian, Bakken, and Eagle Ford basins. We find that drilling had been the dominant NOx source contributing around 80% before the downturn in drilling activity in 2015. Thereafter, NOx contributions from drilling activities and combined production and flaring activities are similar. Comparison of our top-down source attribution with a bottom-up fuel-based oil and gas NOx emission inventory shows agreement within error margins.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019GL085866
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2020


  • NO VCDs
  • NO emissions
  • oil and gas
  • OMI
  • source attribution


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