- Infrared footage shows methane emissions across Europe
- Smaller leaks and venting add up to a climate problem
- Upcoming EU rules to crack down on methane emissions
BRUSSELS/LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) – The potent greenhouse gas methane is spewing out of natural gas infrastructure across the European Union because of leaks and venting, video footage made available to Reuters shows.
Using a 100,000 euro ($119,000) infrared camera, non-profit Clean Air Task Force (CATF) found methane seeping into the atmosphere at 123 oil and gas sites in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Romania this year.
Methane, the biggest cause of climate change after carbon dioxide (CO2), is the main component of natural gas and over 80 times more potent than CO2 in its first 20 years in the air.
Currently, the EU does not regulate methane emissions in the energy sector, meaning companies running the sites surveyed by CATF are not breaking laws because of leaks or venting.
While some member states require firms to report some emissions there is no overarching framework forcing them to monitor smaller leaks, or fix them.
That’s set to change.
The EU is proposing laws this year that will force oil and gas companies to monitor and report methane emissions, as well as improve the detection and repair of leaks.
In the energy sector, methane is emitted intentionally through venting and by accident from sites such as gas storage tanks, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, pipeline compressor stations and oil and gas processing sites.
CATF visited over 200 sites in seven EU countries and filmed emissions with the infrared camera in public vantage points to detect hydrocarbons invisible to the naked eye, such as methane.
“Once you see it, you can’t unsee it,” said CATF’s James Turitto, who filmed the emissions. “If we have any hope of achieving only a 1.5 Celsius rise in average global temperatures, we must stop these leaks.”
Altogether, CATF counted 271 incidents, with some sites leaching methane from several places.
Turitto said over 90% of the sites he visited in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Romania were emitting methane while his hit rate in Germany and Austria was lower.
LEAKS AND HOLES
A selection of the CATF thermography, which shows hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds, was reviewed by five technical experts contacted by Reuters.
Given emissions were at installations handling natural gas – and methane is its main component – they concluded the emissions recorded by CATF were almost certainly methane.
At one gas plant owned by Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI) near the town of Pineto on the country’s Adriatic coast, methane appears to be leaking from a rusty hole in the side of a tank.
The footage captures a snapshot of each site’s emissions on a given day so it cannot quantify the amount of methane being emitted over longer periods.
What it does reveal is emissions that could be avoided if infrastructure owners used commercially available measurement…
Read More: EXCLUSIVE: Gas infrastructure across Europe leaking planet-warming methane