The World Is Hemorrhaging Methane, and Now We Can See Where

Since late October, a natural gas storage well in California has been leaking 100,000 pounds of methane per hour. The colorless and odorless gas is hazardous to health and the environment. The Aliso Canyon leak is accidental but many companies deliberately burn off excess natural gas at energy sites, explains Christina Nunez for National Geographic. Researchers with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, funded by the World Bank, using infrared imaging technology, “estimate that 143 billion cubic meters of gas was flared worldwide in 2012, equivalent to 3.5 percent of all that was produced,” she writes. “Flaring often occurs because oil producers don’t have the pipelines or the market for the gas that sometimes comes up along with oil; it can also happen for safety, to avoid an explosive buildup of methane during emergencies or maintenance, for example.” The article includes a global map. Russia flares the most, followed by Iraq, Iran and Nigeria. The United States has the most sites. The World Bank and United Nations have launched an initiative aimed at ending routine flaring by 2030, and more than 40 governments and energy companies have signed on. – YaleGlobal

The World Is Hemorrhaging Methane, and Now We Can See Where

The Aliso Canyon breach in California is accidental, but thousands of other sites are flaring off methane intentionally, as waste around the globe
Christina Nunez
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Read the article from National Geographic.

Read about the World Bank’s Initiative for “Zero Flaring by 2030.”

The National Geographic article is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge.

Copyright © 1996-2016 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2016 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved

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