Gazprom, the worlds's largest natural gas company focussing on geological exploration within Russia, as well as production, transmission, storage, processing, and marketing of natural gas and other hydrocarbons both in and outside of the country, is taking responsibility for one of the energy sector's most intense recent leaks of the super potent methane greenhouse gas.
Earlier this month an enormous methane plume was detected over Russia and stemming from emergency repairs on Gazprom's Urengoy-Center in Russia's Tartarstan. Such repairs released 2.7 million cubic meters of methane, that has roughly the same short term planet-warming impact of 40,000 internal-combustion cars in the U.S. driving for a year, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
Kayrros SAS, a geoanalytics firm, estimated an emissions rate of 395 metric tons an hour, which would make Gazprom responsible for the most severe release it has attributed to the oil and gas sector since September 2019.
The June plume was equal to just 0.1% of the company’s total pollution in 2019, according to analysts at Moscow-based VTB Capital. “The situation might be quite negative for sentiment on Gazprom’s shares,” they said in a note on Friday, even though the leak was unlikely to impact its finances or operations.
Gazprom is under pressure to do more to lower the methane emissions caused by its operations as countries in Europe — its biggest market — more closely scrutinize the climate impact of the fuel used to heat their homes and power their grids. The large amounts of methane caused by Russian gas come as the European Union seeks to meet a target of net-zero emissions by mid-century.
The leak this month from Gazprom’s pipeline in Tatarstan isn't the only major methane release traced to the Russian company. Kayrros detected another giant methane plume on May 24 with an estimated emissions rate of 214 metric tons an hour. Gazprom said this leak resulted from two days of planned maintenance on the Urengoy-Petrovsk pipeline in Russia's Bashkortostan region. The emissions amounted to about 900,000 cubic meters, it said, which the company described as “in line with the industrial safety regulations.”
Gazprom's leaky pipeline network cannot be too pleasing to President Vladimir Putin, who cited methane’s contribution to global warming in an April speech and said it’s “extremely important to develop broad and effective international cooperation in the calculation and monitoring of all polluting emissions into the atmosphere.” Asked about the May 24 incident, the Regional Ministry of Environmental Management and Ecology said it didn't register any man-made damage in the area during that period.