Methane emissions have jumped so far this year even as oil and gas production has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The report from Kayrros, which analyzes methane leaks through satellite imagery, found visible methane emissions jumped 32 percent in the first eight months of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.
The increase in methane is concerning because of its heat trapping powers — the gas is more than 80 times more potent than carbon emissions over a 20 year period.
“Despite much talk of climate action by energy industry stakeholders, global methane emissions continue to increase steeply,” Antoine Rostand, president of Kayrros, said in a release.
The U.S., Russia, Algeria, Turkmenistan, Iran and Iraq were the largest contributors according to the company’s analysis.
Though the U.S. is a leading contributor, the Environmental Protection Agency in August rescinded its regulations on methane emissions.
“Regulatory burdens put into place by the Obama-Biden Administration fell heavily on small and medium-sized energy businesses,” EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerShuffle of EPA’s science advisers elevates those with industry tries OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump creates federal council on global tree planting initiative | Green group pushes for answers on delayed climate report | Carbon dioxide emissions may not surpass 2019 levels until 2027: analysis Trump creates federal government council on global tree planting initiative MORE said at the time, adding that doing so would give oil and gas companies “flexibility to satisfy leak-control requirements by complying with equivalent state rules.”
Methane figures grew even higher in other oil and gas hot spots like Algeria, Russia and Turkmenistan, where methane emissions leaped by more than 40 percent.
The high methane levels come even as many companies agreed to scale back the production of oil as prices for the commodity plummeted amid a trade war and a halt on human activity due to the spread of the virus.
Though greenhouse gas emissions, in general, dropped in the early days of the pandemic, scientists say they have nearly ticked-back to pre-March levels.