A 10 wt.-% Ni/Al2O3 catalyst with Ni particles of about 4 nm was prepared and applied in the methanation of CO2 under dynamic reaction conditions. Fast phase transformations between metallic Ni, NiO and NiCO3 were observed under changing reaction atmospheres using operando X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). Removing H2 from the feed gas and, thus, simulating a H2 dropout during the methanation reaction led to oxidation of the active sites. The initial reduced state of the Ni particles could not be recovered under methanation atmosphere (H2/CO2 = 4); this was only possible with an effective reactivation step applying H2 at increased temperatures. Furthermore, the cycling of the gas atmospheres resulted in a steady deactivation of the catalyst. Operando XAS is a powerful tool to monitor these changes and the behavior of the catalyst under working conditions to improve the understanding of the catalytic processes and deactivation phenomena.