To limit risk and liability in the handling and disposal of waste, Whiting has developed an effective waste management program. Waste Management Plans are in place for all operational areas, providing guidance to Whiting personnel on the proper handling, management and disposal of waste. We ensure that waste generated at all our locations is properly disposed of, or treated, at appropriately licensed and permitted, third-party waste facilities, such as landfills and saltwater disposals meet Whiting standards.
WASTE FACILITY AUDIT PROGRAM
Whiting has implemented a Waste Facility Audit Program, to ensure the third-party waste disposal/treatment facilities that we utilize meet our standards. We perform independent audits, evaluating a facility’s operating standards and compliance history, compared to the following standards:
- Compliance with applicable state and federal permits, laws and regulations
- Implementation of Environmental, Health and Safety programs
- Possession of adequate liability insurance
- Maintenance of sound facility structural integrity
- Responsible operation and recordkeeping
- Adequate overall housekeeping
We believe this added precaution ensures all waste generated from drilling, completion and operational activities are disposed/treated responsibly, ultimately minimizing the potential liability and environmental risk associated with waste disposal and treatment.
Drilling Residuals Management
Whiting is committed to responsible drilling residuals management and reduction. One hundred percent of our drilling rigs utilize a closed loop system, which eliminates the need for open pits to store drilling residuals. All waste generated from drilling activities is disposed/treated at facilities that are compliant with applicable laws, regulations, and Whiting standards.
Where possible, drill cuttings are treated on location, in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. This on-location treatment eliminates the need to dispose of drill cuttings in landfills, reducing our environmental impact and eliminating air emissions associated with truck hauling to landfills.
Drilling and Completions Fluids
Whiting’s drilling operations utilize drilling fluids that are consistent with standard industry practice, which minimize environmental impact and optimize well control. Where possible, we employ water-based drilling mud systems, which utilize biodegradable vegetable oils. Drilling fluids from these water-based mud system operations are separated from the drill cuttings for reuse in the drilling process. For more information on drilling residuals management, including drill cuttings management, click here.
Hydraulic fracturing completions require the use of water, sand and chemical additives. Typically, more than 99 percent of the completion fluids are sand and water. The remainder is a blend of chemical additives that are often common household products. We do not use diesel in our completion fluids. For more on what is in our hydraulic fracturing fluid, click here.
Through our service providers, Whiting utilizes a number of dry chemicals in our Bakken and DJ Basin completion operations. The use of dry chemicals increases transportation efficiency and aids in ease of clean-up in the event of a spill. Our Water Strategies Committee continues to evaluate the use of additional dry chemicals in completion operations.
Whiting believes trust and transparency is essential to the continued progress of energy development. In furtherance of this belief, Whiting is dedicated to disclosing the chemicals used in our completion fluids. We provide a Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Product Component Information Disclosure Report for each of our wells. Nearly 1,900 of these reports may be found on the FracFocus website. In addition to the operator and the fluid content, each filing identifies the API number, job start and end dates, state, county and well name.
Whiting works with all of its vendors to report fluids used in hydraulic fracturing to FracFocus. We are required by state and federal law to keep Safety Data Sheets (SDS), which are prepared and provided by our vendors. The SDS describes the components of a given hydraulic fracturing fluid by well location. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations govern the content of the SDS and establish the criteria for the disclosure of this information, including protecting “trade secret” and “confidential” business information. We provide the information included in the applicable MSDS to FracFocus, but we are not permitted by law to disclose hydraulic fracturing fluid components used by our vendors that are protected as “trade secret” or “confidential.”
Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) Management
During oil and gas production operations, naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) may be brought to the surface with produced fluids where, over time, they can accumulate in surface and subsurface equipment. Whiting is committed to responsibly managing the hazards and risks associated with NORM. We retain a Certified Industrial Hygienist and Radiation Safety Officer that supports all NORM-related activities involving risk of exposure to employees and contractors, including characterizing NORM exposure risks and identifying health and safety controls to reduce the potential for NORM exposure. Whiting also provides employees with NORM awareness and NORM surveyor training classes.
To identify and manage NORM hazards, Whiting conducts initial and follow-up NORM assessments of our facilities. These NORM surveys, performed by trained personnel, are conducted on active production equipment and on inactive equipment/piping slated for sale or disposal. Each Whiting production office maintains calibrated radiation detection equipment used for NORM surveys. When NORM is identified at a Whiting location, we ensure that adequate worker protection is provided by first focusing on applying engineering controls and preventive maintenance, followed by applying administrative controls and personal protective equipment. Whiting also ensures the environmental risks associated with NORM are minimized by safely handling, storing, transporting and disposing/treating NORM impacted materials.
Whiting’s recycling program continues to grow company-wide. Our corporate office has an established recycling program, and our field operations contract with local vendors to recycle scrap metal. Whiting personnel continually look for available equipment or parts for reuse. These practices all add up to reduce the volume of waste being sent to local landfills.