Fugitive Gas Emissions


Fugitive emissions are the unintentional release of gases or vapors from industrial facilities. Mostly, this occurs from equipment that is under pressure, such as tanks, pipelines or containers.

Diffuse emissions not only contribute to economic raw material losses, but are also a major cause of air pollution and climate change. They include accidental emissions such as pipeline ruptures, leaks, and fugitive escapes, as well as unintentional but non-productive discharges (such as flaring or venting). Recent studies show that fugitive emissions account for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions. In terms of global carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions, this equates to nearly 2 billion metric tons.

Reduction of Methane Emissions during Natural Gas Production

Fugitive emissions can occur in almost every part of our lives: as refrigerants from air conditioning systems, SF6 as an electrical insulator in switchgear, or nitrous oxide from medical facilities. However, by far the largest share of these emissions results from the production, storage and transportation of fossil fuels.


Methane is the main component of fossile fuels like crude oil and natural gas. Methane contributes significantly to global warming with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 30. As a result of increasing climate awareness, a trend towards greater responsibility in natural gas production has emerged, particularly in the United States. Many producers make additional efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. These efforts are partly documented by measurements and certified by external bodies. For example, production sites are continuously monitored for their methane emissions. Using optical spectroscopy, such as the TDLS technique, methane concentrations can be detected in the sub-ppm range already. Thanks to the small-volume measuring cell of the LGD Compact, gas exchange takes place within a few seconds and the measurements can be recorded in real time.

Pipelines in Particular are Vulnerable to Undetected Leaks

Switching to purely renewable energy will not be enough in the short term as the world's population grows and energy consumption increases. Therefore, the production of oil and natural gas will continue to increase for some time. For instance, by 2040, the annual production volume is expected to exceed 5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas.


For instance, by 2040, the annual production volume is expected to exceed 5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Over 50% of this volume is produced in the USA, Russia, Iran, Canada and Qatar. However, the consumers for this energy source are widely distributed around the world. These large quantities of produced gas then have to be transported to the end user. In addition to ships with natural gas tanks, this is also done via the countless pipelines that are laid both above and below ground. The longest pipelines are several thousand kilometers long and connect, for example, production sites in Siberia with Central Europe. Natural gas is transported in these pipelines at speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour. To do this, the gas has to be compressed, i.e. put under higher pressure, so that the flow resistance can be overcome. This pressure and the sometimes very old weld seams on the pipelines are reasons for frequent unintentional leaks. According to estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA), most of these methane losses could be avoided. And in some cases even without additional costs. If methane leaks could be detected in good time using suitable measurement technology, the operator would lose less natural gas, which in turn could be sold. Like that the measurement technology used quickly pays for itself.