The collaboration has proved fruitful. In data gathered over the first two years of Tropomi's operations, scientists discovered major leaks of methane in the oil and gas fields of Turkmenistan, most of which were completely preventable.
Oil and gas fields must build flare installations that prevent methane from leaking into the atmosphere, and Aben said that these leaks suggest those installations are not being used properly.
"These emissions actually relate to flare installations that are not being flared in the oil and gas industry," said Aben. "Flaring is meant to get rid of the methane gases by burning them. It would obviously be better to capture the gas, but they are not even burning it. It's just methane pouring out, and that is not normal operations."
The Tropomi measurements revealed thousands of kilograms (in some cases even tens of thousands of kilograms) of methane leaking from 29 plants every hour.
* * * * *
There is a way now to find such leaks and fix them. This is more important than Co2 as methane is a greater danger to the environment.