Russian Coal Mine Emits Huge Amount of Methane

Published on: 16 June 2022
by KnowESG
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A Canadian company that maintains orbiting methane sensors claims to have discovered the largest methane emissions from a single location it has ever seen. On January 14, a release was reported coming from the massive Raspadskaya coal mine in Kemerovo Oblast, Russia.

The greenhouse gas was entering the atmosphere at a rate of approximately 90 tonnes per hour, according to GHGSat. It's the kind of quantity that would power hundreds of thousands of households in domestic supply.

However, in this case, the methane (also known as CH4) was being released directly into the atmosphere. Methane has 30 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over 100 years.

A major scientific assessment concluded last year that methane is responsible for 30–50 per cent of the current rise in global temperatures and that emissions must be reduced.

GHGSat, established in Montreal, has a fleet of five orbiting satellites. They are equipped with the highest-resolution CH4-detecting sensors currently available in space.

The company's business is locating human-produced CH4 sources and collaborating with individuals responsible for preventing unnecessary releases. The fossil fuel business accounts for the majority of its clients.

Raspadskaya is a massive underground network with 350 kilometres (220 miles) of tubes. It manufactures coking coal.

According to GHGSat's observations, the facility's emissions have been increasing over time, with other large events exceeding 50 tonnes per hour and 10 tonnes per hour reported in late January and May, respectively.

In most cases, a dangerous leak at an oil or gas facility will be around 1 tonne per hour.

Coal mines usually attempt to capture their methane, which must be removed from underground tunnels for safety reasons. Often, the gas is then used to power mine operations.

Methane is getting a lot of attention again. Climate change is mostly caused by carbon dioxide emissions, although CH4 is also a significant contributor.

Its warming effect is larger than CO2 molecule for molecule, but it is also short-lived in the atmosphere, which means that if human-produced sources—such as fossil fuels, agriculture, and garbage in landfills—can be reduced, the advantages will be seen relatively rapidly.

Last year's international climate conference (COP26) requested governments to sign a Global Methane Pledge, committing to a collective objective of lowering global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.

Source: BBC

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