Clear Edge of Natural Gas Over Other Fossil Fuels in Climate Protection

New study refutes claims of high gas losses in Russian pipeline system.

  • Press Releases 13.12.2004

Berlin/Wuppertal, 13 December 2004. The climate balance of natural gas is better than the climate balances for oil and coal - this is the conclusion of a new study carried out by the Wuppertal Institute on the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from the Russian natural gas pipeline system on the climate. The study is based on the most comprehensive emission measurements which have been carried out so far on the Russian export pipelines and natural gas installations in Siberia. The measurement campaign was initiated because the emission values presented in public for transportation of Russian gas were often too high.


When the study was presented in Berlin, Professor Peter Hennicke, President of the Wuppertal Institute, said: "The isolated claims of high gas losses from the Russian export pipeline system were not confirmed. The major part of the greenhouse gas emissions does not result from leaks but from the use of natural gas as fuel gas for transportation to western Europe and from maintenance work. Overall, the emissions are of an order of magnitude of 1 % referred to the natural gas quantity transported."


In collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, the Wuppertal Institute performed measurements on the pipeline systems of the Russian gas transportation companies Mostransgaz, Sewergazprom and Tyumentransgaz in the summer of 2003 and compared these measurements with other studies. "Overall, we examined 25 shut-off valves on transmission lines and 50 machines as well as the associated accessory equipment and valves in five compressor stations", explained Stefan Lechtenböhmer, the project manager; "also we checked around 2,380 km of pipelines for leaks using air-borne laser technology." This representative basis was suitable for making a scientifically supported extrapolation for the entire export grid.


All in all, consideration of the process chain confirmed that the natural gas used in Germany has a significant advantage of more than 25 % over oil, referred to the total greenhouse gas emissions associated with the fuels.


Approx. one third of the German gas required is covered by natural gas from Russian sources. The resource produced in western Siberia is shipped to Germany and western Europe through pipelines more than 5,000 km long. In 2003, approx. 31 billion m3 of natural gas were brought from Russia to the German market.


The study concludes that natural gas is thus the fossil fuel with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions by far. The increased use of natural gas is an available option under a climate protection strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is therefore a reasonable and necessary adjunct to a central climate strategy focusing on significantly more efficient use of all fuels and a switch to renewable energies.


The detailed version of the relevant report is now available and may be accessed on the website of the Wuppertal Institute.



Press release by Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy

in the Science Centre North Rhine-Westphalia

Responsible: Prof. Dr. Peter Hennicke, President

Contact: Dorle Riechert, Public Relations

Tel. +49 (0)202 2492-180, Fax +49 (0)202 2492-108


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