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Geo-analytics company Kayrros has recently detected by satellite methane plumes near natural gas producing fields in Turkmenistan in central Asia and associated pipelines shipping gas to China and Russia, Bloomberg reports.
Methane, the simplest hydrocarbon and primary component of natural gas, is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2).
According to data from Kayrros cited by Bloomberg on Thursday, a methane plume with an estimated emissions rate of 172 tons an hour was spotted on August 31 close to gas-producing fields and the Central Asia Center gas pipeline system in Turkmenistan. The pipeline system connects gas fields in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan and transports gas to Russia.
Another methane plume was detected on the same day near producing fields and another pipeline, this one transporting gas to China, according to Kayrros.
As the oil and gas industry is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane emissions, Turkmenistan—a former Soviet republic—in central Asia is among the highest methane emitters and methane intensity gas-producing countries in the world.
Turkmenistan is the sixth-largest holder of natural gas reserves in the world, according to the Oil and Gas Journal. Despite its large gas and oil reserves, the country is not a major player on the energy markets due to a lack of infrastructure to export more of its gas. In recent years, however, Turkmenistan has boosted its natural gas exports via pipeline to China. State-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has also recently signed a deal with Turkmenistan to make more wells operational in the giant Galkynysh field in the central Asian country.
According to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), Turkmenistan was the world’s fourth-largest methane emitter in 2020. It also had the third-highest methane intensity last year, behind only Libya and Venezuela.
Commenting on last year’s methane emissions, the IEA said that “Reductions were seen across a number of regions in 2020, but large levels of emissions were still seen across US shale plays, in Turkmenistan, and from pipelines in the Russian Federation.”
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com