A natural gas leak at a Pennsylvania facility which had released fuel for 11 days was responsible for putting over 1 billion cubic feet of gas into the atmosphere, according to the facility operator.
On Thursday, owner Equitrans Midstream Corp. said the leak at the Rager Mountain Storage Facility in Jackson Township had finally been shut down. The storage well which was emitting the gas was flooded through a 1 5/8 inch vent by a crew, however the company estimates it had lost about 100 million cubic feet of gas per day for the duration of the leak. That would be equal to about 15,800 to 20,300 metric tons of methane. The largest known methane leak in the US had occurred at a unit of Sempra Energy at Aliso Canyon, Los Angeles, where an estimated 97,100 tons of methane was emitted over several months.
The leak highlights one of the risks of natural gas as an environmentally-friendly alternative to other fuels, such as coal. Although fossil fuel companies have long promoted it as a cleaner burning alternative to coal, that advantage is lost if it leaks into the atmosphere in too high a quantity, especially given it exhibits 84 times the global warming potency of carbon dioxide.
As the primary component of natural gas, methane has accounted for roughly 30% of the increase in global temperatures since the industrial revolution. In the fight against global warming, tackling intentional releases and accidental leaks is seen as one of the easiest, and least controversial steps that can be taken.
In a statement, Equitrans said that on November 6th, it was first notified of the leak at Rager Mountain. As technicians from the emergency response crew arrived on site, they noted they observed gas seeping from the vent, “which was working as designed to relieve pressure from the casing.’’
However a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection representative noted that the venting violated state environmental laws, however it would not speculate on any potential enforcement action or penalty while the investigation of the incident was ongoing.
The Daily Financial Trends