Gas leaking from damaged pipeline could be biggest burst of potent greenhouse gas on record

Rachel Lang

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Gas leaking from damaged pipeline could be biggest burst of potent greenhouse gas on record

Featured Image Credit: forsvaretdk/Twitter.

Methane leaking from the damaged Nord Stream pipelines may be the biggest biggest burst of the potent greenhouse gas on record.

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The update comes hours after the European Union warned of the strongest possible response as the two pipeline leaks from Russia to Europe appear to have been sabotaged.

However, the EU has stopped short of accusing Vladimir Putin and Russia of the incident.

The alleged 'sabotage' that took place on the Nord Stream gas pipeline caused a 3,000ft-wide bubble plume and sent gas prices higher once again.

The leaks may pump volumes of methane gas into the Baltic Sea and atmosphere that would dwarf the Aliso Canyon disaster, which is the largest known terrestrial release of methane in US history.

On behalf of the Associated Press, two scientists have analysed official worst case scenario estimates provided by the Danish government, which is a massive 778 million cubic metres of gas.

Their calculations indicate that the Danish government estimation equates to roughly half a million metric tons of methane.

The Aliso Canyon disaster released 90-100,000 metric tons into the atmosphere.

Stanford University climate scientist Rob Jackson, one of the scientists that investigated reports on behalf of AP, said: "Whoever ordered this should be prosecuted for war crimes and go to jail."

Chemical engineer Andrew Baxter, who has worked in the offshore oil and gas industry, gave AP a more conservative estimate.

However, Baxter's estimate was still more than double the Aliso Canyon disaster.

"That’s one thing that is consistent with these estimates,” he told AP. "It’s catastrophic for the climate."

Danish officials claim that the amount of gas released is already the equivalent of one third of Denmark’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.

The Danish PM believes the action was 'deliberate', adding that the gas pipeline would be out of action for a week.

Mette Frederiksen said: "It is now the clear assessment by authorities that these are deliberate actions. It was not an accident. There is no information yet to indicate who may be behind this action."

Ukraine has even gone as far as accusing Russia of a 'terrorist attack', by Kyiv's presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak.

Sweden's prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, also believes Russia is in the wrong: "We have Swedish intelligence, but we have also received information in our contacts with Denmark, and based on this concluded that this is probably a deliberate act. It is probably a matter of sabotage," she said.

"It is not a matter of an attack on Swedish or Danish territory.

"But that said, the government is taking what happened very seriously, not the least in light of the current security situation in our close proximity."

The Kremlin has hit back on claims by large parts of Europe, with spokesperson Dmitry Peskov describing the accusations of sabotage 'predictable, stupid and absurd'.

Topics: News, World News, Russia, Ukraine, Environment

Rachel Lang
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