NATO assumes that a gas pipeline was sabotaged

Some analysts say Russia will benefit most from high prices and European panic over natural gas shortages, but others caution against pointing the finger early.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Methane leaks from the damaged Nord Stream pipelines, which run between Russia and Europe, are likely to become the largest known gas leak within a short period of time, highlighting the problem of large methane leaks elsewhere in the world. scientists say.

There is still uncertainty in estimating the total damage, but researchers say there are huge plumes of it strong greenhouse gas will have a significant negative impact on the climate.

Immediate damage to marine life and fisheries in the Baltic Sea, as well as human health, will also result from the fact that benzene and other trace chemicals are typically present in natural gas, researchers say.

“This will probably be the largest gas leak ever, measured by its rate,” said Stanford University climate scientist Rob Jackson.

The speed of gas erupting from four documented leaks in the pipelines – which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has attributed to sabotage – is part of what makes the impact severe.

When methane escapes naturally from seafloor vents, the amounts are usually small and the gas is primarily absorbed by seawater. “But this is not a normal situation for gas release,” Jackson said. “We’re not talking about methane bubbling to the surface like seltzer water, but a cloud of rushing gas,” he said.

Jackson and other scientists estimate that between 50% and almost 100% of all methane emitted from the pipeline will reach the atmosphere.

The Danish government issued a worst-case scenario assuming all of the gas would become airborne, and German officials issued a slightly lower figure on Thursday.

Meanwhile, it’s nearly impossible to get close to the highly flammable cloud to try to contain the release of gas, energy experts estimate may continue until Sunday.

“Methane is very flammable — if you go in there, there’s a good chance it’s a pyre,” said Ira Leifer, an atmospheric scientist. For example, if the gas-air mixture was within a certain range, an airplane could easily ignite if it crashed into the cloud.

Methane is not the only risk. “Natural gas isn’t refined to be super clean — there are trace elements of other compounds like benzene,” a carcinogen, Leifer said.

“The amount of these trace elements that are cumulatively entering the environment at this time is significant — this will cause problems for fisheries and marine ecosystems and the people who might eat these fish,” he said.

David Archer, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Department of Geophysics who focuses on the global carbon cycle, said the methane escape in the Baltic Sea is part of the much larger global problem of methane emissions.

The gas is on main post on climate change, which is responsible for a significant portion of the climate degradation that humans are already experiencing. That’s because it absorbs the sun’s heat 82.5 times more than carbon dioxide, warming the Earth in the short term.

Climate scientists have found that methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are far worse than what companies are reporting, despite claims by major companies that they have reduced their emissions.

Scientists measuring methane from satellites in space have found that emissions from oil and gas operations are typically at least twice what the companies report, said Thomas Lauvaux, a climate scientist at the University of Reims in France.

Many of these so-called leaks are no coincidence. Businesses release the gas during routine maintenance. Lauvaux and other scientists used satellites to track more than 1,500 major methane leaks worldwide and possibly tens of thousands of smaller leaks, he said. NATO assumes that a gas pipeline was sabotaged

Laura Coffey

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