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It Happens Here Too: Methane Pollution in Europe’s Oil and Gas Network

May 7, 2023 Category: Industry, Policy Work Area: Methane
It Happens Here Too

After many years of slipping under the radar, the crisis of methane pollution has become a climate priority at the highest levels. In 2021, the European Commission put out its first ever EU-wide proposal to deal with methane emissions. It was a part of a breakthrough moment for methane campaigners, coming just a few weeks after methane had made it to the mainstage at COP26 in Glasgow and more than 100 world leaders committed to the Global Methane Pledge that set a collaborative international target for methane, the long overlooked ‘other’ greenhouse gas. Later that year, Clean Air Task Force debuted its first synthesis report, documenting methane emissions from the oil and gas sector across Europe.

Since 2021, Clean Air Task Force has continued to travel around the bloc, documenting methane emissions throughout Europe’s oil and gas network. Fundamentally, nothing has changed: the issue of methane pollution remains ever present across the entire oil and gas network in Europe.

In this report, CATF outlines our observations of methane pollution from oil and gas infrastructure within the EU. This report is based on trips to over 430 and gas sites spread across 15 European countries, including the United Kingdom between February 2021 and March 2023, utilizing special optical gas imaging (OGI) technology that allows us to make invisible methane pollution visible. This is the first multi-country survey of oil and gas facilities in Europe, and the takeaway is clear: methane pollution is widespread. We found evidence of methane emissions in a large majority (289) of the sites we visited, showing that this remains a common problem across Europe, and one that can be addressed with policies recommendations in this report.

The evidence in this report was captured by James Turitto and Theophile Humann, whose previous work has been published in Reuters, Bloomberg, FT, Der Spiegel, La Republicca, Politico and many others. They are both certified ITC Level 1 Infrared Thermographers and were using a FLIR GF320 camera. The GF320 is the industry standard in identifying emissions, leaks, and events that occur during routine oil and gas operations, or because of faulty equipment, accidents, and intentional releases by operators. The GF320 has been specifically calibrated and independently tested to detect and visualize the presence of at least 20 gases that may be in the air.