There were twice as many methane leaks in Texas as New Mexico between 2019 and October 2023, according to new data from climate technology company Kayrros.
The data also shows that only in Texas were there sites with repeated leaks – suggesting New Mexico’s landmark methane-reducing regulations are having the intended effect.
Kayrros, recently named one of the world’s 100 Most Influential Companies by TIME, used satellite imagery and geoanalytics from Sentinel-2 and EMIT instrument onboard the International Space Station to track leaks of the potent greenhouse gas across the 66 counties in Texas and New Mexico that make up the Permian Basin, the largest oil-producing basin in the US.
It found that per unit of oil production, Texas dwarfed its neighbouring state in terms of leaks by methane ‘super-emitters’ – defined as facilities, equipment, and other infrastructure that emit methane at high rate. Crucially, crude oil production could not be blamed for the disparity. Recent growth in Permian Basin crude output has centred on wells in Lea and Eddy counties, both of which are in New Mexico.
Geology and technology are similar on both sides of the frontier. Landmark rules on the flaring and venting of natural gas adopted in New Mexico in 2021, designed to reduce methane emissions would therefore seem to be having the desired effect without harming business. New Mexico’s regulations may provide a model for other states and food for thought for attendees at COP28, where global methane reduction is a key priority.
Texas emissions could be halved with little additional cost of interruption of supply if it adopted similar rules to New Mexico.
The news comes as Europe puts forward major proposals concerning methane emissions limits on EU gas imports – limits which would put pressure on fossil fuel suppliers in the US to cut leaks of the potent greenhouse gas.
Antoine Rostand, CEO and Co-founder at Kayrros, said that the data shows that taking a tough position on methane emissions does not need to hurt energy security or affordability – and that decision-makers should take note.
“The effect that methane has on the global climate is devastating,” he said.
“Bringing down methane emissions has to be a priority. That was what New Mexico’s regulations were designed to do, and our data show not only that they are working and benefitting the planet, but that they have not hurt business. By our estimates, Texas emissions could be halved if it adopted similar rules and regulations to New Mexico with little additional cost of interruption of supply.
“We hope that decision-makers in business and government recognise that the empirical evidence for inaction on bringing down methane emissions is thin. On the contrary, there is now overwhelming proof that we should take bold action to reduce the output of this potent greenhouse gas without delay, and do so without hurting security of supply.
“That would be a huge victory in the climate battle.”
Kayrros, whose methodology and data quality has been endorsed in numerous peer-reviewed studies and is seen as the international benchmark, has played a major role in highlighting flaws in climate reporting and urging concrete action on super-emitters.
This year, the company called for an outright ban on super-emitters, arguing that it would be easy to achieve and relatively cheap. Kayrros added that rapid cuts in methane emissions from fossil fuels could lead to a reduction of 0.1°C in global temperature rise by mid-century – equivalent to the emissions impact of immediately taking all cars and trucks in the world off the road.
Kayrros has also played a key part in strengthening international climate collaboration and diplomacy. Earlier this year, it exposed massive methane leaks in Turkmenistan, prompting the ongoing talks between its government and representatives from the US. The company also detected giant plumes of methane in neighbouring Kazakhstan – plumes which had previously been dismissed as ‘hot vapour’.
Data from Kayrros is now used by a number of global bodies, including the United Nations Environment Program’s International Methane Emissions Observatory. Kayrros’ work has also been widely recognised for its essential role in confronting the climate crisis.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldpipelines.com/business-news/16112023/kayrros-comment-on-the-new-eu-methane-agreement/
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