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Monitoring methane emissions from gas pipelines

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For the primary time, scientists, utilizing satellite tv for pc information from the Copernicus Sentinel missions, at the moment are in a position to detect particular person methane plumes leaking from pure gasoline pipelines across the globe.

Methane is among the most potent greenhouse gases, second solely to carbon dioxide in its general contribution to local weather change. The vitality sector, together with oil, pure gasoline and coal, is among the largest sources of methane emissions. In response to the International Energy Agency (IEA), oil and gasoline operations worldwide emitted simply over 70 Mt of methane into the ambiance in 2020 alone.

Emission hotspots from the Yamal-Europe and ‘Brotherhood’ pipelines

Till not too long ago, the talk surrounding methane emissions throughout pure gasoline transportation has been centered on faulty installations and gadgets leading to small, ‘fugitive’ or unintended emissions. Because of highly effective applied sciences, resembling high-resolution satellite tv for pc information, scientists at the moment are in a position to underline the affect of frequent and intentional methane releases, also called ‘venting.’

In 2020, Kayrros, a European expertise start-up, efficiently developed a tool to precisely detect particular person methane emissions from area. Now, the platform is getting used to trace common methane emissions alongside gasoline pipelines, for instance in Siberia, with emission charges of as much as 300 tonnes per hour recorded.

By combining information from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P and Sentinel-2 missions, together with synthetic intelligence algorithms, Kayrros scientists detected 13 methane emission occasions, with charges as much as 164 tonnes per hour in 2019-2020, alongside the Yamal-Europe pipeline – a 4196 km pipeline working throughout Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany.

Methane hotspots over a gas pipeline in Kazakhstan

One other 33 emission occasions, with charges as much as 291 tonnes per hour, have been detected over the identical interval on the shorter, Brotherhood pipeline. When contacted, operators confirmed that these occasions have been associated to deliberate upkeep and have been duly reported to the related authorities.

Remarkably, the variety of emission occasions detected by Kayrros elevated by 40% over Russia in 2020 from 2019, regardless that the COVID-19 pandemic helped lower Russian gasoline exports to Europe by an estimated 14%, in keeping with the IEA.

Over the identical interval, Kayrros additionally detected main methane releases within the US, from quite a few emissions related to shale oil manufacturing, in addition to in different international locations resembling Kazakhstan.

Large methane concentrations in non-oil and gas producing regions

Many methane emissions happen throughout transportation, as operators select to vent the gasoline throughout routine upkeep operations, which generally ends in a ‘double-cloud’ sample on Sentinel-5P photos. These occasions, nonetheless, may simply and cost-effectively be averted through the use of different operational practices resembling transportable flaring.

Sentinel-5P imagery of a double-cloud pattern in Russia

Antoine Rostand, President of Kayrros, mentioned, “The local weather footprint of those operational practices is gigantic due to the worldwide warming potential of methane – 84 occasions larger than carbon dioxide over 20 years. The venting noticed by Kayrros alongside Russian pipelines in 2019 and 2020 launched methane equal to roughly three Mt of carbon dioxide, which may have been averted.”

“We now have the expertise to align with our ambitions. It’s time to make use of it.”

ESA’s Copernicus Sentinel-5P Mission Supervisor, Claus Zehner, commented, “Kayrros’ use of Copernicus Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5P photos to detect methane hotspots is just not solely a significant technical achievement however is massively helpful for the planet. It reveals how cutting-edge innovation can leverage information from the Copernicus programmes to ship advantages past what may have been imagined when these programmes have been initially launched.”

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