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Energy Transfer Pipeline Triggers Methane Cloud in Louisiana

Operator reported a release of the potent greenhouse gas with the same short-term climate impact as the annual emissions from about 2,600 cars.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Energy Transfer LP reported a methane release from a pipeline in Louisiana that had the same short-term climate impact as the annual emissions from about 2,600 US cars. 

Approximately 8.2 million cubic feet of natural gas was released from a gathering line July 22, the operator disclosed in two filings with the National Response Center last month. Methane, which is the primary component of natural gas, traps more than 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide over its first couple of decades in the atmosphere.

US fossil-fuel operators that leak or intentionally release the potent greenhouse gas are set to face a first-time fee under the $370 billion climate, energy and health package agreed to by US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Joe Manchin late last month. Methane leaking from oil and gas wells, pipelines and an array of other infrastructure would lead to fees rising to as much as $1,500 a ton in 2026 for some operators. 

Energy Transfer declined to comment on the July emissions. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources said it was aware of the incident and its investigating the release. “We know that the operator has sent a section of the ruptured pipe to a metallurgist to be evaluated, but that’s as much as we have definitively at this point,” a department official said in an email. 

Energy Transfer operates more than 120,000 miles of pipeline spanning more than 40 states and transports about 30% of the crude oil and natural gas used in the US.