Oil report

Despite green plans, energy sector's methane leaks are up -Kayrros

LONDON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - The oil and gas industry has leaked about a third more methane this year than last despite its pledges to reduce greenhouse emissions, satellite images analysed by data firm Kayrros show.

Retrofitting oil and gas infrastructure to prevent leaks, venting and flaring of methane is costly and the sector currently faces an oil price slump due to the coronavirus and a glut in the market.

Methane is almost 90 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in its first 20 years in the atmosphere and the data showed in the first eight months of this year, large leaks of methane shot up by a third over last year.

Leaks in Algeria, Russia and Turkmenistan were higher than the global average, Kayrros said.

“Such increases in methane emissions are concerning and in stark contradiction to the direction set in the Paris Agreement of 2015 (to keep global warming below 1.5 degree Celsius),” Kayrros President Antoine Rostand said.

“Despite much talk of climate action by energy industry stakeholders, global methane emissions continue to increase steeply,” he said.

“In 2019 alone, our technology tracked a combined volume of visible large methane leaks of 10 million tonnes, equivalent to over 800 million tonnes of CO2 over a 20-year period.”

In 2019, the largest emitters were the United States, Russia, Algeria, Turkmenistan, Iran and Iraq, Rostand said.

Pledges to reduce methane leaks are more prevalent among listed producers such as BP and Exxon than at national oil companies.

Kayrros is part of a growing effort in recent months by data companies, academics and some energy producers to use technology to find the biggest methane leaks.

The European Union, the world’s biggest gas importer, is due to publish its new methane strategy on Wednesday. (Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; editing by Jason Neely)