Beyond the Nord Stream pipelines, methane is leaking around the world –

Tens of thousands of tons of methane have leaked from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines. But for specialists, this event is just one incident among thousands that occur every year around the world.

Leaks from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines due to suspected sabotage in the Baltic Sea released some 70,000 tons of methane (read framed), a powerful greenhouse gas, according to an estimate made Wednesday by French researchers based on atmospheric observations. The Danish Army had published on Twitter photos and videos of three bubbles on the surface of the Baltic Sea. These giant “jacuzzis” measure from 200 meters to 1 kilometer in diameter.

>> Read more: Nord Stream 2 Subsea Pipeline Leaks End

“These are important figures, equivalent to 2% of the emissions of France or of the emissions of a city like Paris for a year. They are not good news, but they are not a climate bomb either,” says Philippe Ciais, a researcher at the Institute of Atomic Energy and Alternative energies. Commission (CEA), in the Laboratory of Environmental and Climate Sciences.

Great boiling in the Baltic Sea after three leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines. [Forces armées danoises – reuters]

These estimates are much lower than those first made by experts or NGOs in the days after the pipeline explosions on September 26, which were based on estimates of the amounts of gas contained in the pipelines. Several estimated them at about 300,000 tons. However, the CEA researchers stressed that this first study should in any case “be confirmed by other modellers”.

Leaks, not isolated events

It is not the first time that leaks caused by the hydrocarbon industry have occurred. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has often pointed to the huge amounts of methane that leak every year from fossil fuel production facilities around the world.

By 2021 it had estimated that these global leaks were equivalent to all the gas consumption of the energy sector in Europe. As for the world’s gas infrastructures, which are usually poorly maintained, they would lose around 10% of the quantities transported due to leaks.

early 2022, CNRS researchers, including Thomas Lauvaux, associated with the company Kayrros, mapped 1,800 methane plumes around the world and they are visible on satellite images. “I know that these things are current and dated for several decades. More formally, on this date back to 2019, année des premiers satellites capable de voir ce phénomène”, explains Thomas Lauvaux, jeudi dans l’émission de la RTS Tout a world.

>> Read more: Massive emissions of industrial methane detected from space

According to a study by the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies CommissionMethane emissions have increased by almost 10% in the last decade and 22% come from oil and gas exploitation.

The leaks occur mainly in the “big gas basins” of the United States, Algeria, Turkmenistan, Russia or Iran. “At all oil and gas producers, we regularly see large leaks coming out of their facilities,” he says.

lack of transparency

These discharges are caused by accidental leaks “from a few days to a few weeks”, by almost continuous leaks due to the age of the facilities and by maintenance operations, “which represent almost half of the detections”. “To secure the area, we left the pipelines in the open air to vent the gas into the atmosphere,” Thomas Lauvaux describes.

Until now, there was a “form of minimization” of the leaks that were put in the “rare accidents” account. “We realize that we are far beyond the simple accident,” she said. The researcher denounces a lack of transparency that does not allow governments to act. He believes that more satellites and human resources are needed to be able to follow all the leaks on the planet.

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