We are committed to achieving environmentally-conscious performance throughout the entire lifecycle of our operations. Our approach to resource development continually focuses on efforts to minimize the impact on air, water and land.
Climate Change and Air Quality
Encana understands the need to balance climate change impacts with the basic requirements by society for affordable and reliable energy. We work closely with our key stakeholders to address concerns related to climate change. This includes collaborating with industry to inform regulatory development and participating in voluntary programs like The Environmental Partnership.
“At Encana, sustainability is exemplified in our efforts towards innovative and efficient business practices. The Environmental Partnership provides a forum for collaborating with industry partners on the use of technologies and best management practices to reduce emissions without dictating solutions. Encana’s participation in The Environmental Partnership demonstrates our commitment to reducing VOC emissions through innovation and deployment of efficient, sustainable business practices.“
— Mike McAllister, President
Encana is committed to achieving a practical approach to improve greenhouse gas performance whereby government policy defines goals and allows industry the flexibility to develop effective solutions. We believe the following principles should guide the development of climate change policy:
Policy should define success through emission reduction objectives while allowing the emitters’ the maximum technical and economic flexibility to achieve those goals.
Policy should maintain competitiveness among the energy-intensive trade-exposed industries, ensure compatibility with major trading and economic partners and support long-term capital investments in the upstream oil and natural gas sector.
Policy should deliver economic growth, environmental protection, a secure and reliable energy supply and should be harmonized across jurisdictions, to the extent practical.
Policy should encourage technologies to reduce emissions without mandating solutions.
Greenhouse Gas Regulations
Encana meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas (GHG) regulatory requirements. In the United States, Encana complies with New Source Performance Standards (NSPS OOOO and OOOOa) which apply to oil and gas production sources of methane emissions. In Canada, Encana meets the Environment and Climate Change Canada GHG regulatory requirements at the Federal level and has met BC and AB GHG regulatory requirements at the Provincial level for more than a decade. In addition, the oil and gas sector will be subject to new Federal and Provincial methane regulations, effective January 1, 2020, designed to ensure the sector’s methane emissions are reduced by 40 to 45 percent by 2025, relative to 2012 emissions. We have pledged to implement actions which will ensure compliance with the new regulations when they become effective. Encana actively participates with trade organizations to provide input to regulatory agencies on the development and implementation of GHG regulations. We also work with industry partners and government agencies to align best practices for emission reduction strategies and coordinated regulatory responses.
As oil and natural gas production continues to increase, companies are focused on limiting emissions and improving production efficiencies with innovative solutions. As we look to the future, new and improved technology will continue to evolve and be developed—enabling the production of oil and natural gas in lower-emitting ways.
Encana is committed to reducing GHG emissions and methane intensities through operational efficiencies and innovation. We report gross emissions metrics with data from combustion, flaring, venting and fugitive sources and use intensity metrics to provide a more contextual measure of our impact and normalize the data.
Encana closely follows technology advancements and deploys efficient and cost-effective technologies consistent with regulatory requirements and best management practices.
In some of our production operations, we have replaced equipment that historically utilized fuel—either as motive driver such as pneumatic controllers or combustion such as pump jack engines—with electric-driven equipment. The electric power is either supplied from the grid or on-site electric generators (gas fired engines). Examples of electric-driven equipment includes:
Pump jacks and jet pumps for liquids lifting.
Process controllers (e.g. liquid level controllers).
Chemical and fluid transfer pumps.
Lease automatic custody transfer units.
Vapor recovery units.
Encana is continuing efforts to equip facilities, well sites and pipelines with GHG emissions reduction technologies, including:
- Conducting inline testing, where practical, to reduce flaring during completions.
- Installing vapor recovery units and electric-drive overhead compressors, pumpjack and jet pumps, process controllers, chemical and fluid transfer pumps and LACT units.
- Replacing high-bleed pneumatic devices with low-bleed. Encana has replaced more than 450 high emitting pneumatic devices, resulting in significant CO2e reductions.
- Installing instrument air-driven pneumatic devices to eliminate vented methane emissions.
- Eliminating emission emitting equipment such as line heaters.
- Reducing the number of pneumatic chemical injection pumps required to service multi-well pads by 75%.
- Electrifying natural gas processing facilities. Encana has electrified its three largest gas processing facilities in British Columbia using hydro-generated power. When running at full capacity, this shift avoids CO2 emissions by appoximately 860,000 tons per year.
- Supporting the development of leak detection and repair technologies.
Methane and Fugitive Emissions
Tracking and reporting methane metrics and intensity allows us to consistently benchmark our methane reduction efforts through the full scope of our operations. Most of our methane emission volumes are based on regulatory approved emission factors, operating activity, hydrocarbon composition and gas analysis.
Leak Detection and Repair
In the U.S., Encana has been completing Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) surveys, employing the use of Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) cameras for nearly 10 years. Our Canadian program is under development and we plan to begin implementing in 2020. Today, many of our facilities are subject to federal and/or state regulatory LDAR requirements. In 2017, Encana was a founding member of The Environmental Partnership and committed to the LDAR program. As part of The Environmental Partnership program, we have implemented a voluntary LDAR program to complete surveys at some of our non-regulated facilities. Our LDAR program comprises the following core elements:
We use OGI cameras to detect hydrocarbon leaks not visible to the naked eye. The OGI camera allows for quick and safe monitoring of equipment and helps identify which components may need repair. We also have employed the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle or drone equipped with an OGI camera to conduct aerial surveys of facilities and pipelines. We supplement OGI surveys with Audible, Visual, Olfactory (AVO) surveys.
Survey Components and Equipment
We survey equipment (e.g. wellhead, separators, heaters, tanks, flow lines) for leaks from malfunctioning components (e.g. valves, connectors/flanges, pressure relief devices, open ended lines) and malfunctioning equipment (e.g. tank thief hatches, sight glasses, regulators, gauges, controllers).
We conduct an initial LDAR OGI survey of new wells and tank batteries within 60 days of commencing production. We conduct LDAR OGI surveys in accordance with regulatory requirements at regulated facilities. Our voluntary LDAR OGI surveys are conducted in accordance with The Environmental Partnership guidelines. We also visit facilities as needed based on field observations.
Leak Identification & Repair
We have protocols for the identification and repair of observed leaks and inspection of the repaired components/equipment. Since our LDAR program is “internally implemented,” we are able to repair the significant majority of leaks as soon as they are observed.
We utilize tablet-based technology to log LDAR survey observations (both OGI and AVO surveys). Using this digital logging system allows data to be automatically sent to our compliance tracking system. We can track the date(s) of inspection, the type of component/equipment leaking and the date of leak repair and confirmation (re-survey).
Directed Inspection & Maintenance
We review the LDAR survey data to look for trends and strategically identify specific facilities or components/equipment with greater potential to be leaking. For these sources, we can implement directed inspection and maintenance activities to mitigate and minimize the potential for leaks.
Water is a critical resource and Encana takes responsibility for the water we use extremely seriously. All forms of energy require water somewhere along the development cycle. Although access to water and water scarcity are global issues, our water management approach is specifically tailored to address local or regional water concerns.
Encana’s water management program carefully considers location, resources, regulations, cost, operational need and innovation. Each of our operating areas has a locally focused water management plan that works in compliance with local regulatory requirements and encourages responsible use. This means no
single water management approach works in all of Encana’s operating areas and the water sources we use vary from region to region.
In 2018, 53% of water used in our Permian operations was recycled, resulting in a total cost savings of $47 million.
Total Water use
Water and Hydraulic Fracturing
Much of Encana’s water use occurs during hydraulic fracturing operations. The goal of hydraulic fracturing is to enhance hydrocarbon recovery by creating pathways for the natural gas and oil trapped in the rock to flow through the wellbore to production equipment at the surface. This controlled operation pumps a mixture of fluids (primarily water) and sand through the wellbore to the targeted formation at a high pressure in multiple intervals or stages. In all Encana operations, rigorous water management and protection are vital parts of this process. Proper wellbore design and a steel casing system prevent
fluids migrating from the wellbore and protect local groundwater. Our wells are designed with advanced planning and engineering. Constructed with multiple layers of high-strength and impermeable steel casing and cement to protect groundwater and freshwater zones, our wells are built to last until the production phase has concluded.
Encana uses multiple techniques to monitor each hydraulic fracture treatment it conducts. Encana ensures the integrity of the casing and cement system through field inspection and wellbore logging. Before we begin completion operations, we pressure-test
to ensure integrity. We then continually monitor pressures during each fracturing operation. Any flow of fluids into non-targeted areas would immediately be detected by a sudden loss in pressure and operations would be halted. Hydraulic fracturing processes are strictly regulated by various state or provincial government agencies. We continue to build upon our detailed understanding of the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process to ensure the company is using the most responsible hydraulic fracturing fluid formulations and fluid management practices available.
Responsible Products and Chemical Disclosure
Encana’s Responsible Products Program provides guidance on managing additive and chemical use in hydraulic fracturing in order to comply with regulation and mitigate potential environmental and health impacts. All hydraulic fracturing fluid products we use are assessed for potential impact to the environment and human health using generally accepted toxicological criteria. Encana prohibits the use of hydraulic fracturing fluid products containing diesel fuels and heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury,
2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE) or benzene. Through the Responsible Products Program, we encourage our suppliers to improve their public disclosure of fluid formulations and to continually advance the development of more responsible fluid additives and continually test new technologies that reduce environmental exposure and risk.
We are required by state, provincial and federal law to keep Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), which are prepared and provided by a third-party supplier. The
SDSs detail the ingredients used in hydraulic fracturing fluid at each well location. U.S. and Canadian regulatory bodies have established standards for the disclosure of this information, including the protection of trade secrets and confidential business information, and how this information is reported on the SDSs. Encana provides the information from the SDSs, which includes all the ingredients that we are legally permitted to share, to the FracFocus chemical disclosure registry, along with 1,300 other reporting companies.
Spill Prevention, And Fluid Management
Preventing spills is essential to minimizing environmental impact and ensuring a safe workplace. Effective spill management requires routine maintenance, situational preparedness, continuous improvement and adherence to regulatory reporting requirements. Our Spill Prevention Principles focus on four areas: transferring fluid, following operational procedures, ensuring equipment integrity and considering spill prevention in our site design. We use these four focus areas to incorporate field-based practices into our operations and work sites to prevent spills from occurring and to manage and report them accurately if they do occur. In 2018, we saw a reduction in reportable spills of nearly 17% across all assets and many reportable spills remained on-site or within secondary containment and were immediately cleaned up.
Land Management and Reclamation
We strive to ensure land is restored and mitigated after we drill and complete a well. Our comprehensive land management approach allows us to do this responsibly through life-cycle analysis, planning and mitigation assessments from the initial site and risk analysis through the abandonment and reclamation stages. For many of our assets, detailed pre-planning sessions occur with a broad range of internal experts including biologists, hydrogeologists, hydrologists and development engineers to ensure any potential environmental risks to wildlife, water and land resources are effectively identified and managed.
Wildlife and Habitat/ Biodiversity
Biodiversity plays an important role in our environmental stewardship program. Our wildlife and habitat practice involves an effective process of continual identification, assessment and management. During planning and development, we identify sensitive areas, then work to conserve wildlife habitat and biodiversity. We also minimize or mitigate adverse impact and disturbance to wildlife and ecosystems through restricted activity periods, land use guidelines and setbacks. We engage with government agencies, local communities and landowners to understand and address specific wildlife and biodiversity issues in each of our operational areas.
Materials and Waste
Effective materials and waste management enables Encana to mitigate impacts to the environment. In accordance with regulatory requirements, we aim to reuse and recycle, properly handle, store, transport and dispose of materials and waste that cannot be reused or recycled. Through our materials and waste program, we designate responsibilities for data collection and reporting, and implement a process to ensure waste and materials are characterized, classified, tracked and appropriately handled, transported,
stored and recycled or disposed. We also look to promote material recycling, recovery, reduction and reuse in Encana operations, where applicable.
Drilling residuals are the mixture of fluids, mud and cuttings that come out of the well during the drilling and completion process. Drilling residuals are managed on-site and properly disposed in accordance with applicable regulations. While the disposal of drilling waste is regulated differently depending on regulatory jurisdiction, regulations
are fairly uniform and include requirements for classification as hazardous or non-hazardous, manifesting, transportation and disposal methods. We have implemented processes to assess transporters of waste and materials as well as treatment, disposal and recycling facilities used by Encana to ensure they comply with regulations and conform to the company’s requirements. Service providers working on our behalf are expected to comply with applicable regulations and Encana guidelines.
Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM)
NORM is a type of material that may be encountered at Encana locations. Encana has developed a program to protect the health and well-being of our employees and service providers by establishing roles, responsibilities, requirements and training related to potential exposure to NORM. NORM can be brought to the surface with produced water during oil and gas operations and may accumulate on equipment. In accordance with regulatory requirements and our own NORM management program, personnel who may come into contact with NORM are required to undergo awareness training. Personnel who survey equipment for NORM contamination are required to receive training in the use of survey instruments, equipment sampling strategies and the requirements contained in this practice.
Some areas of North America are experiencing increasing localized frequency of induced seismic activity which has been associated with oil and gas operations. Although the occurrence and risk of seismicity in relation to oil and gas operations is generally very low, it has been linked to the storage of wastewater in deep saltwater disposal wells and has been correlated with hydraulic fracturing activities. Encana has operating procedures to help manage the occurrence and magnitude of induced seismicity to levels that minimize any associated or perceived risks.
Encana supports research efforts in conjunction with regulators that helps inform the understanding and management of induced seismicity events. We are proactively addressing seismic activity through partnerships with independent research institutions and regulatory agencies to track and identify potential causes of induced seismicity.
We have aligned ourselves with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers hydraulic fracturing operating practice, as well as American Exploration & Production Council, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and American Petroleum Institute efforts to reduce induced seismicity risks. Encana continues to work with regulatory agencies and monitor studies that address seismicity.
The United States Geological Survey and Independent Petroleum Association of America provide additional insight into current research and metrics regarding induced seismicity.
Encana Seismicity Mitigation Plan
Planning and Design
As an integral step to the process of planning and designing disposal or producing wells that require hydraulic fracturing, identify and consider all possible faults, geohazards and basement intervals that could increase the risk of seismicity.
With respect to the identified geohazards relative to well design, assess the risk of induced or triggered seismicity. Consider local, background and documented seismic activity in the area.
Operate water disposal wells in compliance with all rules regulating injection rates, volumes, surface pressures and frac gradients.
Monitor Well Operations
For both water disposal and hydraulic fracturing operations, monitor well conditions, including injection rates, pressures and cumulative volumes. Utilizing the traffic light approach, any detected or felt induced or triggered seismicity is grounds to stop work. Where appropriate, utilize available seismic or micro-seismic monitoring equipment which may include resources from the U.S. Geological Survey or National Resources Canada.
Audit, inspect and or confirm third-party disposal facilities using industry, trade or direct audit mechanisms to ensure those facilities have managed all risks relative to induced seismicity consistent with this mitigation plan.