Safeguard Air

We are committed to reducing emissions from our activities and following all applicable governmental regulations. Since 2000, we have instituted a variety of programs to achieve emission reductions, including using infrared cameras to detect minute natural gas releases, reducing methane venting during well completions and installing new automated flare-monitoring alarms.

This included a voluntary leak detection program, replacing high bleed pneumatic devices with lower bleed pneumatics, plunger lift optimization and compression optimization projects. These helped reduce or prevent approximately 9 billion cubic feet of methane emissions from our facilities in the U.S. Lower 48 over the past six years and reduced our global methane emissions by 12.8 percent.

Forward Looking Infrared Radiometer (FLIR) cameras detect leaks in wellheads, tanks, emission-control equipment and pipelines. Rapidly scanning large areas, the cameras enable operators to pinpoint even small leaks in real time, well before they could be detected through conventional means. This allows us to find and repair leaks faster, reducing atmospheric emissions as well as associated safety and fire hazards.

We were also an early adopter of reduced emissions completion technology (“green completions”). Green completions occur after a well has been drilled. During well completions, following hydraulic fracturing, natural gas and hydrocarbon liquids flow to the surface, bringing with them a portion of the fluids injected as part of the completion process. In a green completion, operators bring temporary processing equipment to the well site to separate gas and liquid hydrocarbons from the water produced during the flowback period of the completion process. The gas is then captured to be flared or sent to pipelines for eventual delivery to consumers.

Cooperation in Action

In 2016, along with other operating companies in North Dakota, we signed a consent decree with the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH) that ensures our compliance with existing emission limits from storage tanks and associated vent lines. The NDDOH is the regulatory body that oversees air quality in the state and the consent decree is a settlement for prior alleged emissions exceedances. A major aspect of the consent decree is implementation by the companies of a semi-annual LDAR program using FLIR optical imaging cameras.

In some cases, green completions are not feasible due to a lack of pipeline infrastructure, insufficient natural gas flow to the surface or flow of gas that is unsuitable for recovery. In such cases the gas is flared. Flaring is a controlled burning process that safely eliminates volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as well as methane, yielding carbon dioxide and water. If safety, environmental or other conditions prevent flaring, the gas is vented.