Turkmenistan announced that methane emissions from "Gates of Hell" crater significantly reduced

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Turkmenistan has made significant progress in reducing emissions at the Darvaza crater, said Irina Luryeva, head of the laboratory at the Scientific Research Institute of Natural Gas of the state concern "Turkmengaz," TASS reports.

The burning Darvaza crater is a popular tourist attraction that emerged in 1971 after Soviet geologists discovered an underground gas accumulation at this location. The drilling rig collapsed into a void, forming a deep crater. To prevent harmful gases from escaping and affecting people and livestock, it was decided to ignite them. Geologists assumed the fire would burn out in a few days, but they were mistaken. The gas has continued to burn for 50 years. The crater is popularly known as the "Gates of Hell." Authorities attempted to rename the site to "The Shining of the Karakums" ("Garagum ýalkymlary"), but the name did not catch on and is used only in official media.

According to Luryeva, the method developed at the Research Institute for extinguishing the fire involves restricting the flow of gas to the crater.

"As a result, this method will lead to the depletion of the gas flow towards the crater. We will simply extract all the gas reserves using existing wells," the information agency quotes Luryeva.

She did not specify how long it would take to completely extinguish the crater, although she mentioned that the method has already allowed for a "significant" reduction in methane emissions from the crater.

Scientists at the Research Institute concluded that the only way to extinguish the burning crater is to drill a well near the site to extract the gas. This method can stop uncontrolled gas flows by extracting more than what is naturally released, explained the laboratory head.

In January 2022, then-President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered the crater to be extinguished, citing the negative impact of the burning gas on the environment and the health of nearby residents.

Turkmenistan is one of the world's largest methane polluters, the second most significant anthropogenic greenhouse gas. However, the main reason for such high emission levels is not the Darvaza crater, but the aging oil and gas infrastructure, much of which was built during the Soviet era.

In May 2023, Bloomberg reported that the United States is holding "serious" talks with Turkmenistan to reduce methane emissions and is preparing to sign an agreement in which the US will provide financial and expert support to eliminate sources of gas leaks.


June 12, 2024