The Door to Hell, also known as the Flaming Crater, is a natural gas field in Derweze, Turkmenistan. It has been burning continuously since it was lit by Soviet scientists in 1971. More than four decades ago, a gaping, fiery crater opened up in the desert of northern Turkmenistan, likely the result of a drilling mishap. The Darvaza Crater, more commonly known as the Door to Hell, still burns today, a surreal feature in an otherwise barren landscape.
Details on the origin of the sinkhole are sketchy, but the story goes that Soviet scientists set it on fire to burn off noxious gases after the ground under a drilling rig gave way. Perhaps the scientists underestimated the amount of fuel that lay below – Turkmenistan has the sixth largest natural gas reserves in the world.
The crater is a popular tourist attraction. Since 2009, 50,000 tourists have visited the site. The gas crater has a total area of 5,350 m2, the size of an American football field. The surrounding area is also popular for wild desert camping. 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.
Turkmenistan plans to increase its production of natural gas, intending to increase its export of gas to many countries such as Pakistan, China, India, Iran, Russia, and Western Europe, from its present yearly production level to 225 billion cubic metres in the next 20 years