Big Gazprom Methane Leak Highlights Gas Challenges

Copyright © 2023 Energy Intelligence Group All rights reserved. Unauthorized access or electronic forwarding, even for internal use, is prohibited.

A methane leak was detected at a Gazprom pipeline in Russia this month -- reportedly the world’s largest methane leak in almost two years. The methane leak took place far inland, but the ripple effects could reach LNG shipping lanes. The leak underscored the challenges of relying on natural gas as a bridge into a more climate-conscious world, but it also played into the US-Russia debate about whose gas is cleaner. Tartarstan Gazprom said the leak occurred after the Urengoy-Center 1 gas pipeline section in Russia’s Tatarstan region was shut down for an urgent repair on Jun. 4. It said the leak resulted in some 2.7 million cubic meters of gas being released into the atmosphere. Paris-based energy consultancy Kayrros, which first identified the large methane plume, says it is the worst leak of the potent greenhouse gas (GHG) since at least September 2019, Bloomberg reported. It shows the delicate balance of promoting natural gas as a key enabler of the energy transition while addressing the climate threat posed by methane leaks both large and small. Tackling Leaks Tackling methane leaks is particularly important to Gazprom, which has 176,800 kilometers of pipeline in Russia and is the world’s largest pipeline gas exporter. Emissions from Gazprom's gas transportation alone amounted to 23.82 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020, making up the lion’s share of the company’s total annual methane emissions of 25.5 million tons of CO2e (LNGI Jun.10'21). Gazprom insists it takes measures to avoid methane releases during pipeline repairs, including the use of mobile compressor stations to pump gas into a parallel pipeline. But given the urgency of the latest case, it was impossible to use a mobile compressor station, Gazprom explained in an email to Energy Intelligence on Friday. Gazprom said it still managed to reduce the potential emissions by 22%. On May 24-25, Gazprom released about 900,000 cubic meters of methane during planned maintenance on a section of the Urengoy-Petrovsk gas pipeline in Tatarstan’s neighboring Bashkortostan region, the company said. During planned maintenance, it is a normal procedure to release gas under control and is in line with the industrial safety regulations, Gazprom said. “All the mentioned emissions were in line with the regulatory standards. The released gas volume will be included into the company’s environmental report,” Gazprom said. Whose Gas Is Dirtiest? Gazprom said in a recent environmental report that it created a methane emissions monitoring system and organized corporate control over gas leaks. As for exports, it says new modern gas export pipelines like Turk Stream and yet-to-be-completed Nord Stream 2 will emit less methane than aging Ukrainian pipes or than the methane content of US LNG produced mainly from shale gas and transported by sea. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak last month also insisted that Gazprom’s gas exports were much “greener” than US LNG, a response to US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm’s claim that Russian exports were “the dirtiest form of natural gas on Earth” (LNGI May28'21). Granholm particularly referred to the controversial Nord Stream 2, which Washington opposes on grounds the pipeline undermines Europe’s energy security and threatens Ukraine’s gas transit role. Moscow believes the US’ opposition stems from a desire to promote its LNG in Europe. Vitaly Sokolov, Moscow

Gas Pipelines
Wanda Ad #2 (article footer)
QatarEnergy expects to sign more LNG supply deals with European customers in the coming months, says the gas giant's top executive.
Thu, Jun 1, 2023
European buyers remain reluctant to sign long-term supply agreements, despite the loss of Russian pipeline gas supplies.
Thu, Jun 1, 2023
Victory in landmark elections means Erdogan's era of political hegemony will extend into a third decade, with major implications for both Turks and global geopolitics.
Thu, Jun 1, 2023