A Geospatial Approach to Measuring Surface Disturbance Related to Oil and Gas Activities in West Florida, USA


Oil and gas exploration and production activities (OGEPA) can produce surface disturbances created by the construction of roads, well pads, oil wells, pipelines, production facilities and storage pits. These alterations can range from landscape conversion to transformation depending on location, regulations and enforcement, environmental best practices and state vs. multinational management. Though not known as a major oil and gas state, Florida is ranked 23rd in gas and 24th in oil production nationally. Jay oilfield, located in West Florida’s panhandle region, is the largest and top producer in the state. Though production peaked in 1979, a nationwide upsurge is taking place that could affect Florida. The accounting from above approach proposed here is well suited to understand the role that the infrastructure surface footprint has on West Florida’s landscape and how to monitor potential changes underway. It involves remote sensing, GIS techniques and landscape ecology metrics to quantify surface disturbance in Santa Rosa County’s six oilfields and then ranks each field based on environmental performance (sustainability). Findings suggest that agricultural conversion is the leading driver of land-use and land-cover (LULC) change, while OGEPA have created small-scale surface alterations. This paper’s approach can help oil companies, land managers and local government authorities understand the spatial extent of OGEPA onshore alterations and plan future scenarios, particularly as drilling and production increase in the current shale revolution occurring throughout the US, as well as expanded drilling planned for Florida.

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Baynard, C. , Schupp, R. , Zhang, P. and Fadil, P. (2014) A Geospatial Approach to Measuring Surface Disturbance Related to Oil and Gas Activities in West Florida, USA. Advances in Remote Sensing, 3, 77-93. doi: 10.4236/ars.2014.32007.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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