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Giant Methane Cloud Seen Near Algeria Gas Pipeline That Feeds Spain

Powerful plumes of the greenhouse gas were spotted by satellite in northwest Algeria.

A cloud of the powerful greenhouse gas methane observed by satellite over Algeria on May 26.

A cloud of the powerful greenhouse gas methane observed by satellite over Algeria on May 26.

Source: Kayrros SAS

Powerful clouds of the super-emitter methane have been spotted by satellite in northwest Algeria, near a conduit that appears to branch off from the Medgaz Gas Pipeline, which supplies about a quarter of the natural gas consumed in Spain.

Three plumes were observed by a European Space Agency satellite on May 26 and 27. The most severe had an emissions rate of 118 tons of methane an hour and was approximately 13 kilometers from what looks like a distribution line connected to the Medgaz Gas Pipeline, according to analysis from geoanalytics company Kayrros SAS and Global Energy Monitor. The plume was about 50 kilometers away from the mainline.

Using the emissions rate estimated by Kayrros, if the most severe release lasted an hour, it would have the same short term climate impact as the annual emissions from more than 2,000 US cars.

Although Algeria is a global methane hotspot, historically emissions there have been observed near the Hassi R’Mel gas field in the eastern part of the country. Scientists recently determined equipment associated with the field had been leaking methane for nearly 40 years.