2017-2018 Corporate Responsibility

Air Quality & Climate Change

Newfield is in constant pursuit of new technologies and processes to reduce air emissions in our operational regions. We have a long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship and an awareness that serves as a guiding force for how we operate. Our air quality plan outlines our goals and ensures we stay on track as we work to meet our compliance, data quality and emission reductions in accordance with federal and state regulations. A summary of this plan may be found here.

Newfield, along with 44 other oil and gas companies, joined The Environmental Partnership—a voluntary environmental initiative committed to proactively reducing emissions from energy production.

The companies who joined the partnership have agreed to share scientific information, innovations and best practices, and will be publicly accountable for the progress they make on emissions reductions. Members of the partnership are U.S. oil and natural gas companies of all sizes—majors and independents—who will collaborate to address three of the greatest sources of industry-related emissions. Read more here.

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Production Operations

Gathering and Boosting

GHG Emissions Trio

Our focus on operational efficiencies has led to a decline in our total methane emissions from 2011 to 2017—despite an increase in domestic production in our operational areas. Over the past six years, our gross production increased 25 percent, while methane emissions have decreased 60 percent.

Our methane emissions represented only 0.09 percent* of our domestic production in 2017, down 68 percent from 2011 levels. Reporting by this method allows us to consistently benchmark our methane reduction efforts against our peers while also putting our methane emissions in perspective, encompassing the full scope of our producing operations. The majority of our methane emission volumes are based on agency-approved emission factors, operating activity factors, hydrocarbon composition and gas analysis. In the Williston Basin, 98 percent of our facilities are equipped with meters to measure flared gas volumes and calculate the associated emissions.

For more information on our GHG emissions trends by operating basin, see our historic air emissions data.

As part of the evolution of our air quality reporting materials, we now report methane emissions as a percentage of gross production. Previously reported data have been updated to reflect the new methodology. This also represents the first year of reporting a GHG emissions intensity in metric tons of GHG emissions (CO2 equivalent) per gross oil-equivalent production (MBOE).

*Calculated by converting total gross production in MBOE to metric tons





Gathering and Boosting

In accordance with a 2016 rule for the gathering and boosting sector, we now report on greenhouse gas emissions from our gathering pipelines and boosting stations. These facilities and equipment prepare our product for transmission and distribution after it leaves the well pad. In 2017, greenhouse gas emissions resulting from gathering and boosting processes represented six percent of our total reported greenhouse gas emissions.














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Reducing Emissions

Newfield was an early adopter of methane reduction technology. We voluntarily made the decision to adapt and put into operation green completions technology during each well completion. This has enabled us to capture methane at the wellhead and gather and deliver it to market.

We began to eliminate the use of high-bleed pneumatics in our operations in 2009. Today we have removed all high-bleed controllers from our operations. Further, we minimize the use of low-bleed, intermittent-bleed and no-bleed pneumatic controllers. We may adjust the facility design to operate with fewer controllers or use non-pneumatic devices such as:

  • Mechanical valves
  • Electronic controllers when electric power is available
  • Solar-powered controllers on Utah injection wells

We also use electric or solar powered pumps in place of pneumatic driven pumps at a majority of our well pads.

In accordance with air quality regulations, we design our wells and facilities to avoid intentional venting and minimize venting practices during operations. In North Dakota, we are working closely with midstream partners to improve the capture of produced gas into pipelines. Gas volumes that we are unable to capture are flared as allowed by state regulations. In 2017, we reduced our flared gas volumes by 16 percent from 2015 levels.

We also power our operations with reduced emissions methods wherever feasible.

In the Uinta Basin, we upgraded our workover rigs with cleaner-burning engines that meet or exceed EPA Tier 3 standards. Since 2009, we’ve replaced more than 600 of our older pumpjack engines with more efficient clean-burning units. Additionally, we work to power our well pad operations by electricity when a connection to local utilities is possible.

In our Anadarko Basin operations, a number of rigs are outfitted with bi-fuel engines that run on natural gas.  

We recently completed an environmental impact statement for our Uinta Basin operations and have voluntarily committed to implementing a comprehensive suite of emission reduction initiatives. These include plans to minimize flaring, installing low-emission equipment, lending technical support to scientific research and conducting air quality training for our employees. Read the full list of our commitments.



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Consistent with many of our peers, we do not report a greenhouse gas emissions target due to a number of factors. With frequent changes to baseline greenhouse gas rules and the variety of factors at play in evaluating our total GHG emissions, we choose to focus our efforts on day-to-day activities and processes that can generate continuous, daily improvements instead of a specific, extended target. This method has paid off as we’ve continued to realize reduced greenhouse emissions over the past five years.

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Reduced Truck Traffic

Replacing trucks with pipelines correlates to less gas venting from truck hatches during loading and fewer tailpipe emissions from truck traffic. The use of pipelines also keeps more trucks off the roads year-round—protecting drivers and reducing traffic accidents and the risk of spills.

Truck use has been further reduced by connecting both existing producing wells to newly available infrastructure and new wells to pipelines more quickly, eliminating the need for interim truck transport. Using pipelines to move oil from our production operations directly to a transportation terminal eliminated a combined total of more than three million miles of truck travel and nearly 4,300 metric tons of CO2e in Oklahoma and North Dakota 2017.

By the end of 2017, 72 percent of our wells were connected to pipelines in North Dakota, transporting 80 percent of our product in the Williston Basin. In Oklahoma, nine percent of our wells were connected to pipelines by the end of 2017, transporting 43 percent of our product in the state. Plans are to continue expanding our pipeline infrastructure.

Pipeline and emission reduction
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Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR)

A compliance-based leak detection and repair (LDAR) program is in place to inspect equipment, tanks, vapor collection systems, connections, pumps and valves daily. As a standard industry practice, we use audio, visual and olfactory (AVO) methods to evaluate our production facilities at our operations. Additionally, each of our facilities are formally inspected at least once a year using AVO and/or infrared methods.

Our LDAR program also utilizes infrared camera technology to detect methane leaks not visible to the naked eye. The infrared camera allows for quick and safe monitoring of all equipment and helps identify which components may need repair. The team immediately attempts to repair identified leaks while on site. If an immediate repair cannot be made, the leak is prioritized for repair according to state and federal regulations with the goal to repair leaks within 30 days.

We employ and train LDAR specialists to perform inspections and repairs daily on operational units. To be qualified to conduct LDAR inspections, our specialists undergo training that includes classroom instruction on camera operations and a field exercise to demonstrate their ability to operate the infrared camera and successfully record leaks and repairs. We also provide leak detection training to our production staff about common types of leaks, methods for testing and repair and protocol for reporting.

While our current LDAR program is primarily regulatory-based, our leak reduction efforts do extend beyond compliance. In order to maximize environmental benefit from these voluntary inspections, we strategically target facilities and equipment with the greatest potential for fugitive emissions. This selection strategy is based on identification of high producing locations and geographical proximity.

valvesWe strive to enhance and innovate processes in our LDAR program to advance methane emission management. For example, we utilize advanced tablet-based technology to log all LDAR and AVO inspections onsite with identifying information, affected equipment and repair updates. Using this digital logging system allows all data to be automatically sent to our compliance tracking system and also enables us to analyze trends on equipment leaks.

As a result of our successful LDAR program and advanced monitoring technology, we completed more than 1,060 inspections in Oklahoma, Utah, Montana and North Dakota using infrared technology in 2017—18 percent of which were voluntary. In addition, 2,900 AVO inspections were performed at our Utah and North Dakota operations.

The percentage of wells we inspect through our LDAR program will continue to increase as a result of regulatory requirements and our voluntary participation in the Environmental Partnership.  

 

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Our Vehicle Fleet

Though our vehicle fleet is small by industry standards, 14 percent of our trucks are equipped to run on low-emission fuels like compressed natural gas (CNG) and flex fuel. Our flex fuel vehicles can run on gasoline-ethanol blends of up to 85 percent—reducing our fleet tailpipe emissions. While the limited availability of CNG fueling stations restricts our ability to implement bi-fuel CNG vehicles, we’ve optimized the placement of our vehicles to enhance access to existing stations. Using bi-fuel CNG vehicles has contributed to reductions in both greenhouse and carbon monoxide gases. Using CNG fuel in place of gasoline prevented 27 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017.

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Partner in Research

Newfield participated in the 2016-2017 Storage Tank Emissions Pilot Project (STEPP), studying fugitive emissions from liquid storage tanks in the Uinta Basin. The study, conducted by Utah State University in conjunction with the Utah Division of Air Quality, used infrared imaging to detect emissions at well pads. Research crews planned to survey from the perimeter of our sites, but we invited them onto our well pads accompanied by a Newfield representative. Measurement on a well pad increases the likelihood that the source of any discovered leaks will be properly identified. This process is critical to delivering improved data and informed decision making. Approximately 400 well pads were visited and 61 percent of sites surveyed showed no visible plume. Of the plumes that were detected, many were associated with storage tanks. Newfield regularly inspects storage tanks through our LDAR program to address any leaks that may be connected to the equipment.

Newfield’s cooperation in a recent EPA study aided in the agency’s assessment of pneumatic controller emissions in the Uinta Basin. Pneumatic controllers use gas to actuate valves in order to regulate temperature, pressure and/or liquid levels onsite and to help with safety functions and process controls. The researchers studied 80 pneumatic controllers on eight well pads from several Uinta Basin operators with the intent to determine how measurement methods and emission rates for pneumatic controllers might be improved. The study found that less than 15 percent of pneumatic controllers were found to be malfunctioning.

In early 2018, Utah State University began an aerial leak detection survey of oil and gas activities in the Uinta Basin. Newfield actively engaged with researchers as they conducted three weeks of flyovers using a helicopter equipped with an infrared camera to survey 5,000 oil and gas facilities. Building on protocols from STEPP, the study also included a ground-based survey. Newfield again invited researchers onsite to increase survey accuracy. Additionally, Newfield volunteered our LDAR teams to conduct well pad surveys during the three-week flyover period to enhance ground-to-aerial measurement comparisons. Studies like this provide decision-useful information about root causes of well pad emissions and aid in increasing understanding among researchers, government agencies and industry. Results from the study are expected to be issued in late 2018.


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Page last updated on August 6, 2018