New data from what purports to be a seminal scientific study coordinated by UNEP's International Methane Emissions Observatory, Utrecht University and the Environmental Defense Fund reveals that oil production in Romania likely emitted approximately 120 kilotons of methane in 2019. Romania is the EU's second-largest oil and gas producer and ranks among the highest in reported annual methane emissions from the energy sector according to the 2022 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data.
The authors found that the national inventory may have underestimated methane emissions by at least a factor of 2.5 that year. The wasted methane – the main component of natural gas - equals a financial loss of approximately 90 million euros and could have powered around one million homes for an entire year.
The research, involving scientists from more than ten EU research institutions, shows the potential to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas industry through simple fixes: “Our findings show that Romania has a huge opportunity to slash methane emissions. With more frequent leak detection and repair and by stopping venting, the country could capture otherwise wasted gas, bring it to market, and protect our climate (Italics mine),” says Environmental Defense Fund scientist Daniel Zavala-Araiza. “But Romania is not a single case. Similar savings could be made by the industry in many places.”
"This study could have a large climate impact, because the measurements show precisely how oil and gas operators can mitigate their methane emissions," says Thomas Röckmann, one of the lead authors of the study.
“These findings underscore the significant potential for methane reduction in the energy sector - one of the most achievable climate actions - both within the EU and globally,” says Flavia Sollazzo, Senior Director for Energy Transition at Environmental Defense Fund Europe. ”They also emphasise the need for a robust EU regulation and the feasibility of the provisions under discussion in the EU methane regulation. We must set an example by swiftly reducing these emissions and addressing the substantial external EU methane footprint through a performance standard for imports.”