Houston Chronicle

Watchdog: Fossil fuel companies need to curb methane emissions

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BERLIN — The Internatio­nal Energy Agency says oil and gas companies aren’t doing enough to reduce the release of methane, a potent source of planet-heating emissions, that is seeping out of pipelines and production plants.

A report published Monday by the Paris-based organizati­on found the estimated 10 percent drop in methane emissions from oil and gas companies last year was largely due to lower production amid a global decline in demand due to the coronaviru­s pandemic.

It warned that the amount of methane released into the atmosphere as part of the production process for fossil fuels could rebound again as economies recover and called on countries and companies to do more to plug those leaks.

While carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are the main source of greenhouse gases, methane contribute­s significan­tly to the problem as well because it is so much more effective than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

The IEA said its Methane Tracker report suggests the oil and gas industry worldwide emitted more than 70 million metric tons of methane last year, equivalent to the total energy-related CO2 emissions from the 27-nation European Union.

“There is no good reason to allow these harmful leaks to continue, and there is every reason for responsibl­e operators to ensure that they are addressed,” the agency’s executive director, Fatih Birol, was quoted as saying.

He added that government­s could also help tackle the problem with more effective industry regulation.

Satellite imaging has become an increasing­ly important tool in pinpointin­g the source of humanmade methane emissions in recent years.

The report cited data by analytics firm Kayrros showing that methane emissions decreased in Iraq, Kuwait, Turkmenist­an and the United States last year, while increasing in Algeria, Kazakhstan and Russia, which saw a 32 percent rise in 2020 compared with the previous year.

 ?? Associated Press file photo ?? The Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska, is shown. The IEA said the oil and gas industry worldwide emitted more than 70 million metric tons of methane last year.
Associated Press file photo The Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska, is shown. The IEA said the oil and gas industry worldwide emitted more than 70 million metric tons of methane last year.

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