Whiting is deeply committed to protecting the environment as we safely and responsibly develop our resources. At all levels within our company, Whiting continuously takes measures to prevent and minimize the environmental impact of our operations. We are also seeking new and innovative ways to reduce pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the company’s carbon footprint and properly manage waste.
GAS GATHERING AND PROCESSING
Whiting has made significant investments in natural gas gathering and processing infrastructure to maximize natural resource recovery and minimize natural resource waste. It is Whiting’s policy to capture and market natural gas resources wherever feasible.
Whiting has constructed and now operates 4 natural gas processing plants and the associated gas gathering lines. This has given Whiting the ability to process its own natural gas for distribution to the consumer market that could otherwise be flared. In areas where Whiting has not established gas gathering and processing plants, it is our practice to look for other opportunities to send produced natural gas to market. An example is the 20” pipeline that Whiting built from the Tarpon area to a third party compressor station in North Dakota. This further increased Whiting’s gas capture rate, which set the curve for the state’s new flaring standard. By maximizing its marketing of natural gas, Whiting reduces potential emissions.
UTILIZATION OF CONTROL DEVICES
Where Whiting is unable to market its natural gas resources, it seeks to utilize emission control devices to minimize the impact of natural gas emissions to the environment. At many of these facilities where gas marketing is not feasible, Whiting captures and combusts produced gas, tank vapors and other process vapors, resulting in fewer pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions. Another approach Whiting has embraced to eliminate emission sources is the electrification of equipment.
GREENHOUSE GAS REPORTING
Whiting complies with the EPA’s greenhouse gas reporting rule. Whiting’s annual reports can be found on EPA’s website, which is available to the public. To view these annual reports, go to EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting web page and click on the map titled “GHG Data Publication Tool”.
REDUCED EMISSIONS COMPLETIONS
Ahead of the recently published Federal regulations, Whiting began implementing practices where drilling and workover operations would utilize techniques aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. The use of these techniques has greatly reduced Whiting’s carbon footprint, pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions and natural gas flaring during completions and workovers. At Whiting, we are committed to protecting the environment.
LOW-EMITTING PNEUMATIC DEVICES
Ahead of the recently published Federal regulations, Whiting enacted a policy whereby all newly installed natural gas-driven pneumatic devices must be low-emitting, except where safety or operational conditions require a higher-emitting device. At facilities where compressed air is available, Whiting has begun using air actuated controllers. Whiting believes such a policy greatly reduces its carbon footprint, pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions and conserves valuable natural resources.
LEAK DETECTION INSPECTIONS
On its own initiative, Whiting routinely inspects many of its facilities with a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) thermal imaging camera to identify and repair gas leaks. This program was implemented prior to the publishing of rules that require these inspections and has continued to encompass a wider range of equipment and facilities than is required. This successful program has increased the visibility of natural gas leaks when they occur, resulting in increased gas capture, a reduced carbon footprint and the reduction of harmful emissions.
FACILITY INSPECTIONS AND MAINTENANCE
In addition to FLIR inspections, Whiting personnel routinely inspect facilities in an effort to identify potential emission and liquid leak sources, along with sediment discharge due to stormwater. Through inspection, Whiting is better able to anticipate equipment and BMP failure and to identify and repair equipment when leaks or discharges do occur.
Whiting has developed a robust routine maintenance program to track and trend all maintenance concerns to closure, giving Whiting the clarity to target reoccurring maintenance issues and enhance equipment reliability. The end result of periodic inspections and more reliable equipment is increased capture of natural gas and oil, reduced generation of air pollutants and enhanced prevention of damaging product or sediment releases. This practice also realizes an increased retention of land mass and protection of the environment surrounding our operations.
SPILL PREVENTION AND RESPONSE
Whiting has developed a robust Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan that provides personnel with the tools they need to efficiently and effectively prevent releases and respond to them if they occur. Strategically located spill response trailers throughout our drilling and production areas offer quick response time to Whiting assets. Peer benchmarking studies show that Whiting is consistently below the industry average for spills.
Whiting also prepares for potential incidents through rigorous emergency response training and an Incident Command System. In addition, several individual programs exist to review and update all emergency response plans and processes as necessary.
Whiting is also one of the original members of the Sakakawea Area Spill Response, LLC (SASR). It is a company composed of 13 oil, gas and pipeline operators in the upper Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea region. SASR members have agreed to share resources and purchase and maintain equipment in order to respond quickly and comprehensively to an open water spill. The goal is to minimize impacts to the area and protect local residents and the environment. Part of Whiting’s reputation as a clean and responsible operator can be attributed to these practices and prevention efforts.
To limit risk and liability in the handling and disposal of waste, Whiting has taken active steps to build a waste management program. Waste Management Plans are in place for all operational areas, providing guidance to Whiting personnel and contractors on the proper handling, management and disposal of waste. An approved waste vendor program is also in place to ensure that waste vendors, such as landfills and saltwater disposals, can legally accept and are knowledgeable about how to properly dispose of Whiting’s waste.
Whiting understands that being a responsible operator is more than reducing air emissions or preventing spills. It is because of this that Whiting has developed an informational program to communicate the importance of being aware of the flora and fauna in the areas in which we operate. Informational brochures, complete with identification pictures, are distributed on an annual basis to personnel, contractors and field offices to help those working at Whiting locations identify threatened or endangered species. Colorado Wildlife and North Dakota Wildlife brochures can be found below. Guidance on how to avoid sensitive areas is also vital to ensuring Whiting’s disturbance is minimal to the wildlife around us.
Colorado Wildlife Brochure
COMPLIANCE AND AUDITING
Whiting builds compliance programs for health, safety and environmental laws and regulations, along with internal standards by identifying the applicable requirements and putting practices in place to meet them. A central environmental database, integrated with several other Whiting systems, is the core of our compliance effort. It allows us to more adequately track and trend data, accumulate compliance documentation, and provide more tools to verify compliance across the entire company.
To balance compliance efforts, Whiting has established an aggressive auditing program involving site inspections, desktop compliance reviews, verification through database tracking, reporting and legal counsel. The goal of this auditing program is to assess compliance of our operations and measure the effectiveness of our EH&S management systems.
COMMUNITY EMERGENCY RESPONSE PREPAREDNESS
Natural disasters present risks to our employees, the environment and the communities where we operate. We support groups that are well trained and prepared to respond to emergencies and natural disasters. In September 2013, Whiting donated over $100,000 after floods devastated the communities where our employees live and work throughout Colorado.
REDUCED VEHICULAR EMISSIONS
Where possible, Whiting has pushed to sell product through Lease Automatic Custody Transfer units, or LACTs. This impacts the environment through a drastic reduction in oilfield truck traffic which becomes tangible through a reduction in vehicular emission, noise reduction and road dust. Whiting also encourages all of its Denver employees to use mass transit to reduce vehicular emissions by providing public transit passes at no cost to the employee. Carpooling when in the field and limiting idle time of field vehicles are also encouraged to maximize fuel economy and prevent unnecessary emissions.
Whiting views its contractors as an extension of the company and we take steps to verify our contractors are meeting the Whiting standard. A screening process is completed on all potential contractors to ensure training programs, health and safety policies and work practices meet the criteria set by Whiting. In addition, signage is present at Whiting locations to help reinforce the EH&S expectations and training is offered to align contractors with Whiting’s goal of environmental compliance.
It is clear to Whiting that positive relationships with regulators, the community, peer operators and landowners are critical to operating responsibly. Transparency and honesty are cornerstones of these relationships. We regularly discuss upcoming plans, provide status updates, review regulatory requirements and stay involved in rulemaking processes and maintain a rapport that enhances these working relationships.
Whiting’s recycling program continues to grow company-wide. An office recycling program is established in the Denver corporate office and field offices have begun to explore recycling programs in their areas. Recycling efforts can even be found throughout field operations with scrap metal recycling containers and Whiting personnel continually looking for available equipment or parts for reuse. These practices all add up to reduce the volume of waste being sent to local landfills.