Huge methane plumes from leaks mapped from outer space


Satellites have mapped for the first time, the massive plumes of methane leaking from oil and gas fields. These leaks, mostly thought to be unintended cover vast areas stretching as much as 200 miles at times and shows the true footprint of oil and gas operations for the first time says Riley Duren, an author of the paper and CEO of Carbon Mapper  which tracks methane emissions.The leaks generally occur during various maintenance exercises. Of course, as everyone knows landfill, agriculture and coal production also emits methane. The key here is that such leaks are easily fixed and since methane is one of the most potent of GHGs contributing about 30-50 percent of temperature rises, simple preventive measures it will have significant impact in reducing emission related climate negatives.


In most cases, the emission of such gases is by declarations from companies or nations and in that respect, this is one of the first ways in which completely independent data is available on methane emissions. The findings concluded that Turkmenistan, USA and Russia are the worst offenders although such potential countries as Canada and China could not be measured because of heavy cloud cover. Scientists estimate that plugging these leaks will result in savings of USD 6 billion for Turkmenistan, USD 4 billion for Russia and USD 1.5 billion for the USA while preventing between 0.005C and 0.002C of warming. This is equivalent according to the scientists of removing all of the emissions of Australia since 2005 or the emissions from 20 million cars a year.


According to Professor of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh, “Capping these very large leaks might seem like it would play only a negligible role, but the societal implications are significant”. With COP26 commitments being the reduction of methane emissions by 30% leak plugging is the equivalent of plucking very low hanging fruit.

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