Measurements show methane leaking from US platforms offshore | environment

Oil and gas extraction in the Gulf of Mexico produces twice as much greenhouse gases, according to official figures. Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered this by measuring actual emissions from platforms out at sea from an aircraft. They discovered that, in particular, from offshore platforms of the old type, where oil and gas are collected from various drilling platforms in the region, much more methane leaks than from paper.

“If we focus our efforts to reduce emissions directly on those sources, it can have a significant positive impact,” researcher Eric Kort concludes. In a previous study, he and his colleagues reported that more methane is released into the air when the gas is extracted on land in the United States than would be expected on the basis of government documents.

Methane (CH4) is the main component of natural gas. It’s a very potent greenhouse gas: when released into the air, it has more than eighty times the warming effect of carbon dioxide (CO2) over twenty years. Therefore, reducing methane emissions can contribute significantly to combating climate change in the short term.

One of the simplest ways to do this is preventing leaks in the gas extraction process. This can be done, for example, by properly sealing the fittings. If the pressure at the facility becomes too high, incineration is almost always a better option than releasing methane into the atmosphere. When methane is burned, only carbon dioxide is released into the air. This will reduce climatic damage. For producers, releasing less methane into the air means they have more gas to sell. On the other hand, they will first have to invest in better facilities.

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According to the researchers, the US government also has something to improve. According to them, they should set higher requirements for emissions reporting.

Denton Watson

"Friend of animals everywhere. Evil twitter fan. Pop culture evangelist. Introvert."

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