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Every 40 Hours: Detecting Pipeline Methane Leaks Before They Become Major Regulatory Events

natural gas pipelines
Less than 10% of gathering and transmission pipelines in the US are regularly inspected for methane leaks

Every 40 hours, 3 times a week, there’s a major pipeline gas leak reported in the US.

Over the course of the decade from 2010-2020, this amounted to over 2,600 hazardous pipelines in the US causing more than $4 billion in damages & emergency services, killed 122 people, and released 26.6 billion cubic feet of fuel as methane or carbon dioxide. To put this in perspective, it’s a staggering number when we consider that less than 10% of natural gas gathering and transmission pipelines in the US are regularly inspected for leaks.

An unknown number of leaks are going undetected and governments are taking note. In May 2023, the U.S. pipeline regulator (PHMSA) announced new rules focussed on dramatically reducing leaks of methane with the aim of eliminating 1 million tonnes of methane emissions by 2030, the equivalent of emissions from 5.6 million cars.

major pipeline leak
A major pipeline leak is reported every 40 hours

This included laying out new measures to clamp down on methane leaks from over 2.7 million miles of gas transmission, distribution, and gathering pipelines that criss-cross across the US, often in remote rural locations and from hundreds of natural gas storage tanks and facilities.The energy sector can no longer afford to ignore leaks – and this includes those leaks that no one knows about… yet.

About 40% of human-caused methane emissions come from leaks in the sector, but this number could be much larger as new technologies and an increasing number of satellites orbiting the planet make detecting emissions faster and easier.

As opposed to costly and human personnel-dependent ground sensors, multi-satellite imagery can be harnessed to autonomously detect and measure all GHG emissions anywhere on the globe.

To put it mildly, this is a revolution in GHG monitoring. Until now, estimates of emissions from oil and gas industries relied mainly on paper-based calculations of what's pouring out of tailpipes and smokestacks, based on the amount of energy consumed by people and businesses.

Ground sensors and limited aerial and drone imaging added an additional layer of accuracy in limited cases (i.e., specific locations). But as satellite and machine learning technology improve, we are approaching a time when no emission will go undetected.

Momentick’s advanced emissions intelligence is here to get us there.

Momentick GHG monitoring
Momentick Emissions Report

By harnessing multi-satellite imagery, our technology provides the essential data the energy sector needs to know exactly when, where and at what rate leaks are occurring.

Our software solution offers a one-stop shop platform for emissions data. Using a unique multi-satellite approach, our technology draws on a wide range of satellite imagery sources to autonomously detect and measure emissions over large regional areas and for specific assets and facilities — i.e., vast networks of pipelines.

We’re here to take the industry from reporting a leak every 40 hours to detecting in near-real time a leak at any given moment.



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