Welch: Industry partnership driving environmental progress in the Permian

Jul 18, 2020 10:08 AM

Jamie Welch EagleClaw Midstream, MRT | July 18, 2020

As Permian Basin operators join with others in the U.S. energy industry in responding to ongoing uncertainties, the natural gas and oil industry remains focused on protecting the health and safety of our workers, communities, and the environment.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, energy companies have manufactured and transported medical supplies and essential fuels for communities across America. Additionally, as natural gas and oil power the world’s economic recovery, the industry is working toward a brighter, cleaner energy future.

Here at home, EagleClaw Midstream is committed to transporting affordable and reliable fuels to meet the growing demand for energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To that end, this year EagleClaw joined The Environmental Partnership, an industry-led initiative created to improve environmental performance in the production and transmission of oil and natural gas.

We recognize that the conversation affecting our industry more broadly has clearly changed. The discourse is now one where environmental considerations are of equal importance to safety. Many companies such as EagleClaw have reflected on this at length and asked themselves some very telling and deep questions.

Our actions impact the future of the planet and what we leave for our children and every subsequent generation. As an industry, we must change, and so measures such as those suggested by Railroad Commission Chairman Wayne Christian about reducing flaring are exactly the types of steps and measures that we, as an industry, need to get fully behind.

By implementing state-of-the-art technologies, convening workshops, and sharing best practices, the participating companies – including 36 of the top 40 U.S. natural gas producers – are reducing emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds in America’s largest energy-producing regions.

Crude oil reserves in Texas are significant and Texas natural gas reserves account for nearly 30 percent of the U.S. total, making the leadership of Permian Basin energy operators key to advancing industry sustainability.

The performance programs, based on Environmental Protection Agency data, have been designed to identify and address emissions from equipment leaks, high-bleed pneumatic controllers, liquids unloading processes including pumps and meter, pipeline slowdowns, and compressors.

These programs are evolving and advancing operations, allowing the industry to reduce its environmental footprint while responsibly developing our domestic energy resources.

In 2019 alone, more than 116 million component inspections were performed during more than 87,000 leak surveys – showing a leak occurrence rate of 0.08 percent, which is less than one leaking component in 1,000, significantly lower than EPA estimates.

The Partnership, which launched in December 2017, has established itself as a model for industry-driven environmental progress and collaborative investment toward sustainable energy solutions.

As EagleClaw strives to meaningfully improve environmental performance, we are proud to lead the coalition’s new expansion into midstream operations to address emissions throughout the natural gas supply chain.

Currently, EagleClaw operates more than 1,000 miles of natural gas gathering and processing pipeline in the Delaware Basin, reliably transporting resources from the wellhead through our processing facilities to refineries and industrial centers along the Gulf Coast.
Natural gas pipelines are the safest, most environmentally friendly way to deliver energy for everyday use – more so than trucks or railways – and infrastructure expansion is integral to capturing greenhouse gas emissions at the wellhead and streamlining performance systemwide.

Environmental protection requires future-focused infrastructure development, an undertaking larger than any single company or energy-producing region. By collaborating with other stakeholders, communities, and regulators, the broader industry can decrease flaring volumes and improve the efficiency of natural gas production in Texas and across the U.S.

Additionally, the partnership is helping fund the development of new methane-sensing technologies to further reduce emissions from natural gas systems.

Members of The Environmental Partnership are committed to producing and delivering the sustainable energy to power our future. At EagleClaw Midstream, we fully support this commitment and recognize that economic and environmental progress are not mutually exclusive.