Photo: Bubbles on the water surface above the leaks. Source: Danish Defense

Nord Stream damage causes ‘huge methane peaks’, report says

An enormous amount of methane gas has been released into the atmosphere due to the damage to the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, according to a report from the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS).

The methane emissions are confirmed by ICOS ground-based observations from several stations in Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

According to the report from the greenhouse gas observation system, the leak is estimated to be equal to the size of a year’s methane emissions of a country like Denmark or a city the size of Paris.

Several ICOS stations in the Nordics observed huge methane peaks after the Nord Stream damage. Copyright ICOS ERIC.

“We assume the wind on the leak area blew the methane emissions north until the Finnish archipelago, then bends towards Sweden and Norway,“ said senior scientist Stephen Platt from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU).   

The report states that observation satellites were not able to see the emission leaks because the weather was cloudy.

“At a later stage we might be able to confirm and quantify the amount of gas leaked, and several ICOS scientists are currently discussing the various options for that. Right now, particularly given the complex meteorological conditions, and that the methane is still bubbling up from the pipes, it is unfortunately not yet possible,” said Alex Vermeulen, director of ICOS Carbon Portal.

Methane is said to be one of the strongest greenhouse gases. In a period of 100 years, it warms the atmosphere about 30 times more than carbon dioxide.

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As reported earlier this week, four gas leaks have been found on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that connect Russia and the European Union.

European authorities are suspecting that the incident could be the result of “deliberate actions” after the Norwegian and Swedish seismic institutes confirmed that underwater blasts preceded the leaks.

Neither of the two pipelines is operational. Russia shut Nord Stream 1 at the end of August and German chancellor Olaf Scholz halted the process of certifying Nord Stream 2 earlier this year due to the crisis in Ukraine.

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