US climate change contribution

….65 tonnes per hour of methane, discharging to atmosphere for 6 months!

The Climate Change conference in Paris, in December, was bracketed by yet more “once in 200 year” floods in Northwest England, and followed, or maybe even preceded, by the UK Government announcing the cancellation of CCS research support, and all subsidies to solar power. OK they are now rethinking solar power subsidy.

But the USA was already digging itself deeper into the mire by having a major methane gas leak in California. Already, the methane gas leak from underground storage tanks had been venting to atmosphere for two months when they sat down at the table. The problem is, current plans to stop the leak will take three further months, if it works. Why can’t the US machine do it faster?

So at 65 metric tonnes per hour of gas discharge of methane, this is 1560 T per day; 46,800 T per month; and 234 thousand tonnes over the five months of the leak, all things being well.

Now methane is 70 times more damaging to the atmosphere than CO2, so that means the leak will be equivalent to 16 million, 380 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere because of a leak that was not ‘controllable by the US industry involved’, from natural gas storage, presumably it was storing their fracked gas. We don’t get told the equivalent of this air pollution in terms of vehicle emissions or power station homes supplied with power: maybe we should measure it in terms of numbers of houses flooded, and cyclone casualties instead?

Actually, it can be measured against one of the biggest coal fired stations in the UK, Longannet in Scotland. Longannet power station is closing because it consumes 1000 Tonnes of coal per hour, say that is 4000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per hour. It does not have any CCS capture technology, so it is closing because it is a major source of European pollution.
The gas leak in California is 65T per hour methane, equivalent to 4550 Tonnes per hour of CO2 equivalent.
So this one gas leak is more polluting than one of the UK power stations that is now paying fines for its pollution emissions!
Are the US owners of this methane storage facility paying any fines for their climate damage? Does anyone in the USA care about this enough to put a major effort in to close the leak in less than another three months, maybe, if everything works like they hope?

See http://www.hazardexonthenet.net/article/107539/Massive-gas-leak-from-California-underground-storage-reservoir-causes-1-800-families-to-relocate.aspx?

January 2016 Update:

The leak rate has slowed considerably over the past months, and the Californian Air Resources Board reckon the total discharge to date has been about 83,000 tonnes of methane. They consider the well storage is being exhausted. This equates to 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. SoCalGas suggest the leak capping process will be completed in the month of March.

February 2016 Update:

On Feb 11th SoCalGas announced that they had completed the drilling down to intercept the base of the leaking well, and they had succeeded in plugging the flow with heavy mud followed up by cement. So the leak had been stopped – but it was probably stopped anyway, all the gas having been exhausted. 11,300 residents can now return to their homes.

More important is that attention has now been focussed on the problem of these leaky old wells used for gas storage, and the Los Angeles Daily News has the bit between its teeth and is turning investigative reporters onto similar stories. Main focus is on the Hattiesburg Gas Storage site in Mississippi and Lake Gas Storage site in Texas.

 

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One Response

  1. So if Longannet power station is closing because it consumes 1000Tonnes of coal; per hour, say that is 4000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per hour.
    The gas leak in California is 65T per hour methane, equivalent to 4550 Tonnes per hour of CO2 equivalent.
    So this one gas leak is more polluting than one of the UK power stations that is now paying fines for its pollution emissions!
    Are they paying any fines for their climate damage?

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