Russia has created a methane bomb, on purpose

A satellite image shows gas from the Nord Stream pipeline bubbling up in the water following incidents in the Baltic Sea. Photo credit: Roscosmos/ Handout.

By Anders Lorenzen

Emissions of methane, the world’s most potent greenhouse gas (GHG) have been given an unwelcome boost.

The recent ruptures in two Nord Stream gas pipelines have been blamed by the European Union (EU) on Russia.  The underwater pipelines in the Baltic Sea ruptured near the Danish island of Bornholm last week (The leakages have now stopped but had lasted for three days). The US, several European countries and the EU itself have not stopped short of accusing Russia of deliberately rupturing this pipeline, as the next step in its war on the West.  

The impact

Now the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has delivered some damning news about the climate impacts of the event, saying it is the cause of the biggest release of methane ever recorded. The huge methane plumes were detected by researchers from UNEP’s International Methane Emissions Observatory (IMEO).

The head of the IMEO Manfredi Caltagirone said about the climate-damaging impacts: “ This is really bad, most likely the largest emission event ever detected. This is not helpful in a moment when we absolutely need to reduce emissions.”

In addition, the researchers at GHSat, a satellite company that uses satellites to monitor methane emissions estimated that the leak from one of the four rupture points was 22,920 kilograms per hour (KG/HR). They said that that is the equivalent of burning about 630,000 pounds of coal every hour.

Advances in satellite technology have increased the ability of scientists to find and analyse GHG emissions in recent years. The hope is that this ability will help companies both detect and prevent methane emissions.  

As Russia continues its full-on cruel war in Ukraine, earlier this year Germany cancelled another gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, angering Russia. There is increased concern across Europe that Russia is punishing the continent for supporting Ukraine, by turning down the gas valve to countries hugely dependent on Russian gas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s