Apr 19, 2022 - Business

Kelcy Warren’s pipeline company leaked tons of methane in just an hour

Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer
Kelcy Warren heads Dallas-based Energy Transfer. Photo: Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A natural gas pipeline operated by Dallas-based Energy Transfer leaked enough methane in about an hour to equal the yearly emissions of 16,000 cars, per Bloomberg News.

Why it matters: Methane, a major component of natural gas, is dozens of times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Flashback: Energy Transfer chairman Kelcy Warren donated $1 million to Gov. Greg Abbott's re-election campaign months after the statewide blackout during the February 2021 freeze.

  • The natural gas company made $2.4 billion during the power grid’s failure.

Details: The Bloomberg report shows there was a break in an "unregulated gathering line" that caused a natural gas leak for a little over an hour in March.

  • That leak likely put about 900 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, which uses aerial surveillance to track gas releases in the Permian Basin.

The big picture: The leak occurred on a pipe that's part of a mass of unregulated lines across the country that link production fields to transmission lines, per the report.

Zoom out: A Stanford-led study released last month in Environmental Science & Technology found that methane leaks from the New Mexico side of the Permian Basin are double the rate of estimates by government agencies.

Yes, but: There are a relatively small number of super-emitters, according to the Stanford study, and typically once leaks are discovered, they can be shut down quickly and cheaply.

  • Energy Transfer has 12,000 controllers on its 90,000 miles of pipeline to reduce methane emissions, according to its 2020 annual report. It says those controllers prevent 2.9 million cubic feet of methane emissions a day.

Go deeper: An interactive map produced by the Environmental Defense Fund shows natural gas emissions in the Permian Basin, which produces about 15% of U.S. natural gas.

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