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Russia has been burning off huge amounts of natural gas since June – around £8million worth a DAY

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Russia has been burning off huge amounts of natural gas since June – around £8million worth a DAY – as Europe’s energy bills rocket

  • Finnish citizens spotted gas burning at the Portovaya LNG plant in Russia
  • The plant is near a compressor station where the Nord Stream 1 pipeline begins
  • Experts suspect Russia may be deliberately burning away the gas as prices soar
  • Russian media said the gas flare is a normal part of the production process

Finnish citizens recently spotted a large bright jet of fire streaming over on the other side of their border with Russia.

The flame was coming from the new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant at Portovaya, near St Petersberg, sources later claimed.

What they saw turned out to be a flare, a combustion device used to burn-off natural gas rather than selling it.

Researchers using satellite detectors have noted a significant increase in heat emanating from the facility since June.

The plant is burning an estimated £8.4million worth of gas every day, experts said.

‘They don’t have other places where they can sell their gas, so they have to burn it,’ the German ambassador to the UK suggested to BBC News 

A giant flare which reports in Finland say is evidence of Russia burning off natural gas rather than supplying it to the EU. The flame was coming from the new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant at Portovaya, near St Petersberg, pictured

The plant is burning an estimated £8.4million worth of gas every day, experts said

The plant is burning an estimated £8.4million worth of gas every day, experts said 

Researchers using satellite detectors have noted a significant increase in heat emanating from the facility since June

Researchers using satellite detectors have noted a significant increase in heat emanating from the facility since June 

Putin cut Europe's gas supply to several European countries. The EU and Britain are seeking to end dependency on Russian gas, which Putin claims will trash economies across the continent

Putin cut Europe’s gas supply to several European countries. The EU and Britain are seeking to end dependency on Russian gas, which Putin claims will trash economies across the continent

WHAT IS FLARING?

‘Flaring’ means the controlled and deliberate destruction of gas by burning.

Russia burns the most amount of natural gas in the world, flaring off 24.88 billion cubic metres per year as of 2020 according to World Bank data.

Flaring burns off natural gas when it can’t be immediately transported and no storage facilities exist.

If the gas can’t be stored, like in oil facilities across the region, the gas must be flared in order to maintain production levels.

Gas plants can be expensive to restart if deactivated for long periods, so operators often find it cheaper to burn existing gas rather than stop production.

Without the right equipment to liquefy natural gas and convert it into a liquid, plant organisers sometimes also opt to flare off the fuel.

Several chemicals released through flaring, such as benzene, are named by the American Cancer Society as known carcinogens.

The plant is near a compressor station where the Nord Stream 1 pipeline begins. Russia and Western powers have been in a dispute over whether to shut down the pipeline, leading some to conclude that Russia is deliberately burning away the gas.

Gas prices have soared in Europe after Russia decided to invade Ukraine on February 24, spiking again when Putin cut gas supply to several European countries.

‘I’ve never seen an LNG plant flare so much,’ said Dr Jessica McCarty of Miami University. ‘Starting around June, we saw this huge peak, and it just didn’t go away. It’s stayed very anomalously high.’

Around 4.34 million cubic metres of gas are being burned by the flare every day, according to Rystad Energy.

Flaring is seen as potentially deeply harmful to the environment, but is also alleged to be part of Putin’s plan to freeze the West by limiting gas supplies, so forcing a change of tack over Ukraine.

Supplies of gas to Finland have been cut off since May because Helsinki refused Putin’s demand to pay in roubles.

Poland and Bulgaria also refused to pay in roubles amid Russian moves to skew the rate of its currency which had collapsed when war broke out.

The EU and Britain are seeking to end dependency on Russian gas, which Putin claims will trash economies across the continent.

The Western action is in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Putin is now seen as having imposed a ‘gas famine’ on Europe in a bid to force NATO countries to stop supplying arms which have upset his plans to bring Ukraine to heel.

Gazprom exports in July plummeted by 58 per cent, with production down one third.

Reports by the Russian media say the LNG flare is a normal part of the production process and nothing unusual

Reports by the Russian media say the LNG flare is a normal part of the production process and nothing unusual

Russia burns the most amount of natural gas in the world, flaring off 24.88 billion cubic metres per year as of 2020 according to World Bank data

Russia burns the most amount of natural gas in the world, flaring off 24.88 billion cubic metres per year as of 2020 according to World Bank data

Russian sources claimed the flares are not due to the wanton destruction of gas.

Reports by the Russian media say the LNG flare is a normal part of the production process and nothing unusual.

The Finns say the flare started in June and is not a phenomenon they have spotted before across the border at such intensity.

Its timing coincides with the cuts in supplies to Western customers.

Britain receives minimal gas from Russia, but recently declared in June that it had gone a month without buying any fuel from Russia for the first time in recent memory.

The impact of limits in Putin’s supplies to Europe is felt in the high prices paid by households across the country.

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