Giant methane cloud spotted near Algerian gas pipeline that supplies Spain

Powerful plumes of greenhouse gases have been spotted by satellite in northwestern Algeria.

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(Bloomberg) — Powerful super-emitter methane clouds have been spotted by satellite in northwestern Algeria near a conduit that appears to branch off from the Medgaz pipeline, which supplies about a quarter of the natural gas consumed in Spain. Three plumes were observed by a European Space Agency satellite on May 26 and 27. The most severe had an emission rate of 118 tons of methane per hour and was about 13 kilometers from what looks like a distribution line connected to the Medgaz gas pipeline, according to analysis by geoanalytical company Kayrros SAS and Global. Energy Monitor. The plume was about 50 kilometers from the mainline.

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Using the emissions rate estimated by Kayrros, if the most severe release lasted one hour, it would have the same short-term climate impact as the annual emissions from more than 2,000 American cars. Although Algeria is a global methane hotspot, there have historically been observed emissions near the Hassi R’Mel gas field in the east of the country. Scientists recently determined that equipment associated with the field has been leaking methane for nearly 40 years.

Algeria’s state-owned oil and gas company Sonatrach, which owns and operates almost the entire section of the Medgaz pipeline that runs from the Hassi R’Mel field to the Algerian coast, declined to comment. A spokesperson for the country’s energy ministry did not respond to an email seeking comment. Naturgy Energy Group SA, which operates the part of the Medgaz pipeline that runs under the Alboran Sea until it reaches Spain, also declined to comment. Naturgy and Sonatrach announced last July that they were extending the gas pipeline’s capacity by 25% to a total of 10 billion cubic meters per year from the fourth quarter of 2021. Naturgy’s president, Francisco Reynes, said in the press release. that the infrastructure “reinforces the security of natural gas supply to Spain and is essential to provide guarantees and stability to the process of ecological transition and decarbonization”. in a rush for the exit of Russian gasBut if Algeria, which supplies around 8% of Europe’s gas imports and is the continent’s third largest supplier after Russia and Norway, cannot curb the massive and sustained releases of methane observed by satellite, this could compromise its ability to play a role in Europe’s energy transition. The European Union is seeking to tighten control over leaks from within the bloc and key sources outside the continent.

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