Given how leaky natural gas infrastructure is, reducing my usage at home (by turning back the thermostat, or using more efficient appliances) will also result in reduced methane emissions throughout the system. This is important because methane itself (the chief component of natural gas) is a more potent greenhouse gas than the CO2 emitted after the natural gas is burned in my home.

For a given amount of natural gas piped into my home, about how much methane is leaked throughout the supply system?

I'm most interested in data for the U.S. state of Wisconsin where I live, but I've had trouble finding any numbers, so I'd be curious about data for any state, country, or region.

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    The infrastructure exists whether you're drawing on it or not, right? Apart from the marginal difference in the quantity of deployed infrastructure that depends on how much you individually use, does not using the existing infrastructure make a difference to how much gas leaks? Commented May 12, 2021 at 18:55
  • @Jean-PaulCalderone that's a good question, and I'd like to understand the scale of the leakage first. Is it 1%, or 25%? While it's true the infrastructure will still be there, if I use less, than less gas will be injected into the leaky pipes on the other end.
    – LShaver
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 19:28
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    Leakage occurs in the production area. Once the gas is on the distribution system there is very little leakage. There is a trace of leakage at pinhole corrosion pits , they are difficult to locate because they are so small. Depending on your diet , your gut likely generate more methane than your "share" of the methane leaked by the distribution system. Commented May 13, 2021 at 14:50
  • @blacksmith37 if you can cite some sources I think that could count as an answer.
    – LShaver
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 15:17
  • I am old ,from a time when one learned and remembered something and did not rely on the net for all information ( there was no net). Upside- when the net is off , I still know stuff. Downside- I am terrible at looking up info on the net. If I wanted info on pipeline pit leaks , I would go to the DOT Pipeline Section. All pipeline operators are required to submit a plethora of operating information including all leaks. I expect DOT summarizes and publishes some info. Commented May 14, 2021 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


I don't have any data for your area but this research from the University of Oxford suggests leakage of 0.39Mt of methane annually from gas mains in the UK. (By way of comparison, agriculture produces 0.91Mt and decomposition of waste in landfill produces 0.46Mt).

The most recent consumption figures I could find came from this page which suggest a total annual usage of 78.8 billion cubic meters, which using this converter gave a value of 4.3Mt. That would suggest almost 10% leakage which seems rather high to me - someone please correct me if I've got my calculations wrong somewhere.

There is definitely a big push in the UK to replace its ageing gas infrastructure, mainly replacing the old iron pipes with plastic ones. The leakage in your area would largely depend on the age and health of the gas infrastructure, particularly the material used for the pipes.

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    This is a good answer +1, but I wonder if there is a difference in leak rate between that supplied to power stations and homes? I recall a figure of 25% leakage being quoted somewhere for domestic gas, but I have been unable to find it.
    – Dave
    Commented May 20, 2021 at 12:32

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