• Satellite imagery detects major UK natural gas pipeline leak

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

In an interesting proof of the utility of satellite detection of methane leaks, a researcher at the University of Leeds in the UK, using satellite imagery from Canadian company GHGSat, has detected a major leak from a gas main operated by Wales and West Utilities in Cheltenham, UK.

As the BBC reports, the utility itself became aware of the leak when a member of the public reported smelling gas; Wales and West Utilities said it was in the process of obtaining the necessary permits to replace the mains when the leak was detected by the researchers. Incidentally, the researcher, Emily Dowd, a PhD candidate at the university’s School of Earth and Environment and the National Centre for Earth Observation, discovered the leak by accident, as she was using the satellite imagery to assess methane leakage from a nearby landfill.

As Ms Dowd told the BBC, “finding this leak brings a question of how many there are out there and maybe we need to be looking a bit harder to find them and take advantage of the technology we have.” It offers a window into possible future auto-detection of methane leakage around the world and faster efforts to repair infrastructure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Methane has been estimated to be responsible for around 30% of global temperature rises.