Environmental considerations are embedded throughout our business practices in order to minimize impacts to air, land and water from our operations. We develop and maintain programs to manage air emissions, prevent and respond to spills, minimize habitat disturbance, and protect water across diverse ecosystems and regulatory jurisdictions. We operate under rigorous regulatory frameworks, which are becoming more stringent across our business.
Our operational management system, Ethos, provides company-wide guidance for managing environmental risks. From this overarching standard, our teams implement regional practices and procedures that meet the needs and regulatory expectations of our operating areas.
Meeting the world’s energy needs while managing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a complex challenge. The growing demand for energy will require the continued development of oil and gas resources. With increasing oil and gas production, energy companies are focused on improving efficiencies and limiting emissions with innovative solutions and technology.
Natural gas has been a big part of the solution. Increased North American natural gas production has encouraged greater use of natural gas for electric power, resulting in dramatically lower GHG emissions. The increased export of natural gas through liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals will create emission reduction opportunities around the globe. A key learning of the recent past is that technology can change the energy landscape in dramatic and beneficial ways. The current trend toward new technology allowing customers to use oil and gas in lower emitting ways will continue in the future as innovations improve the ways we convert energy sources into useful work.
Read about how we consider the costs of GHG emissions in our 2015 Annual Report.
Fugitive methane emissions include unintended releases of natural gas that result from the production, processing and transport of hydrocarbons. These emissions can result in local air quality impacts, contribute to GHG emissions and represent product and revenue losses.
By identifying and understanding fugitive methane emission sources, we can implement fit-for-purpose technologies that improve our operational performance and reduce emissions. We collaborate with industry groups, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and government agencies to best understand fugitive emissions from our operations. We support the development of best practices, voluntary reduction initiatives, and appropriate regulatory responses to the issue.
Both our Canadian and U.S. operations are subject to regulatory initiatives aimed at reporting and reducing fugitive methane emissions. Although our approaches differ between the two countries according to regulatory requirements, inspection and maintenance programs are the basis of our efforts to manage fugitive emissions.
Our land management practices enable responsible use and development of land resources. We include life cycle analysis, planning and mitigation in our activities from the initial site and risk analysis through to abandonment and reclamation.
Our land management programs are comprehensive. They ensure that environmental risks are effectively identified and managed and include mandatory programs that minimize, reclaim or remediate impacts to land throughout the life of the asset.
Encana's Responsible Products Program provides our Operations Teams with guidance on managing additives and chemicals used in our hydraulic fracturing and drilling operations. Our Responsible Products Program helps us manage our regulatory risk, and mitigate potential environmental and community impacts. This is accomplished by maintaining an inventory of the products we use, assessing the potential impacts of those products to the environment and public health, and by using only those products which we have screened and that meet our standards in our operations.
Preventing spills is essential to limiting our environmental impact, ensuring a safe workplace and reducing costs. Effective spill management requires routine maintenance, situational preparedness and continuous improvement in every phase of our operations.
Our Spill Prevention Principles focus our efforts on four areas: transferring fluid, following procedures, ensuring equipment integrity, and considering spill prevention in our site design. We use these four focus areas to promote tangible, field-based practices that are incorporated into our operations and work sites to prevent spills from occurring.
Effective waste management enables Encana to minimize our impacts to the environment. Our waste management practices ensure that waste generated by our activities is appropriately classified for proper handling, storage, transportation, tracking and disposal in accordance with regulatory requirements.
Our water requirements and the nature of our operations require tailored approaches to water management. We regularly assess and implement technologies and processes to improve our water management practices. We work in compliance with robust regulatory regimes, which encourage responsible water use.
Sourcing water for our operations is unique to each location, as the availability and quality of water can vary significantly depending on the nature of each resource play and location of every well pad. There are various sources of water used in developing oil and natural gas: non-potable water, surface water, shallow and deep ground water and recycled/reused water. Depending on the availability, cost and regulatory requirements in each area, we may use one or more of these sources for our operations.
The overall occurrence of induced seismicity in relations to oil and gas activity, either by hydraulic fracturing or wastewater disposal, is generally very low and is limited to a few specific areas. Encana has operating procedures to help manage the occurrence and magnitude of induced seismicity to levels that minimize any associated or perceived risks. These procedures have been developed based on experience with seismicity associated with those limited cases involving hydraulic fracturing as well as operations related to well injection.
Minimizing our impact to wildlife and habitat is not only regulated by law, but is an important consideration as we strive to conduct our business responsibly. We actively manage our development schedules and operational footprint to account for a wide range of wildlife and habitat concerns. In order to identify site-specific wildlife and habitat issues and minimize disturbance, we conduct environmental and wildlife assessments during the project planning process and continuously monitor our performance throughout our operations.