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Fred Koch, father to the infamous Koch brothers, brought oil and gas expertise to the USSR. Hubris: “overestimation of one’s own competence, accomplishments or capabilities” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris If Soviet petrochemical scientists thought it was a large reserve, as the article indicates, shouldn’t they have known it wouldn’t burn off in a few days when they lit it afire? Did they not know or not care? Was there a better choice? There is something to be learned in the fact that the drilling rig disappeared into a sinkhole. Should this have been foreseen? Or, does it simply show that humans didn’t and don’t know as much as they think they know? The complexity of disturbing geology. A lot appears still unknown or untold about this case.

Burning Gas Crater Of Darvaza: The Door to Hell

From Wikipedia:
Door to Hell
Darvasa gas crater panorama
Panorama of the gas site burning, 2011

Location of the Door to Hell fire in Turkmenistan
Country Turkmenistan
Region Derweze, Ahal Province
Coordinates 40°15′9.4″N 58°26′21.8″ECoordinates: 40°15′9.4″N 58°26′21.8″E
Field history
Discovery 1971
The Door to Hell is a natural gas field in Derweze (also spelled Darvaza, meaning “gate”), Ahal Province, Turkmenistan. The Door to Hell is noted for its natural gas fire which has been burning continuously since it was lit by Soviet petrochemical scientists in 1971, fed by the rich natural gas deposits in the area. The pungent smell of burning sulfur pervades the area for some distance.

The field is situated near the Derweze village. It is in the middle of the Karakum Desert, about 260 kilometres (160 mi) north from Ashgabat. The gas reserve found here is one of the largest in the world. The name, ‘Door to Hell’, was given to the field by the locals, referring to the fire, boiling mud and orange flames in Derweze’s large crater with a diameter of 70 metres (230 ft).[1] The hot spots range over an area with a width of 60 metres (200 ft) and to a depth of about 20 metres (66 ft).[2]


The site was identified by Soviet scientists in 1971.[3] It was thought to be a substantial oil field site.[4] The scientists set up a drilling rig and camp nearby, and started drilling operations to assess the quantity of gas reserve available at the site. As the Soviets were pleased with the success of finding the gas resources, they started storing the gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig and camp collapsed into a wide crater and disappeared. No lives were lost in the incident. However, large quantities of methane gas were released, creating an environmental problem and posing a potential danger to the people of the nearby villages. Fearing the release of further poisonous gases from the cavern, the scientists decided to burn it off.[1] They thought that it would be safer to burn it than to extract it from underground through expensive methods. Environmentally, gas firing is the next best solution when the circumstances are such that it cannot be extracted for use. At that time, expectations were that the gas would burn within days, but it is still burning, more than four decades after it was set on fire.[1]

Effects on future development of gas

The Door to Hell
The deposit as seen at night, 2010. Photo by flydime via Wikimedia.

In April 2010, the president of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, visited the site and ordered that the hole should be closed, or measures be taken to limit its influence on the development of other natural gas fields in the area.[3] Turkmenistan plans to increase its production of natural gas, intending to increase its export of gas to China, India, Iran, Russia, and Western Europe from its present level to 75 million cubic metres in the next 20 years.[2] As of 2013, the hole is still burning. It has now become an international tourist destination.[5]” Emphasis added. References at link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Door_to_Hell