Energy Production & the Environment | Hess Corporation
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Hess is committed to safeguarding the environment; this commitment is a key aspect of the Hess Value of Social Responsibility. 

Striving for continuous improvement in our environmental impacts – including water and energy use, air emissions, waste and spills – is a central focus of our work. We dedicate significant staff and resources to help ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations, international standards and voluntary commitments. To track our environmental performance and drive improvement over time, we use key performance metrics – including several factored into our annual incentive plan – at the asset and enterprise levels.

Freshwater Use
Water Management

Water is an important resource for our onshore exploration and production operations, where we primarily use it for drilling and completions in our upstream operations and cooling in our midstream gas processing operations. We also know that water is critical for the communities and ecosystems in which we operate. In some areas, our water use may be restricted by local limitations on water supply and disposal. Accordingly, water management has been identified as a material issue for Hess, and it is a key element of our environment, health, safety and social responsibility (EHS & SR) strategy.

In 2018 we continued to develop our risk-based, lifecycle approach to managing water and made associated improvements to our water data collection process.

Leak Detection and Repair

We employ a leak detection and repair (LDAR) program at our production facilities in North Dakota and Ohio (sold in 2018). The LDAR program covers each fugitive emissions component at these facilities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines a “production facility” as “all structures, piping, or equipment used in the production, extraction, recovery, lifting, stabilization, separation or treating of oil, or associated storage or measurement, and located in an oil or gas field.” The agency defines “fugitive emissions component” as “any component that has the potential to emit fugitive emissions of methane or volatile organic compounds at a well site, production facility or compressor station, including but not limited to valves, connectors, pressure relief devices, open-ended lines, flanges, covers and closed vent systems, thief hatches or other openings on a storage vessel, compressors, instruments and meters.”

 

In 2018 we continued to enhance our LDAR field assurance team. This team conducts audible, visual and olfactory (AVO) inspections and optical gas imaging (OGI) on equipment that has the potential to emit fugitive emissions. The AVO inspections are scheduled monthly for our North Dakota production operations. OGI is conducted semiannually by trained operational personnel in our North Dakota production operations and quarterly at our North Dakota gas plant and compressor stations. Prior to the sale of our Ohio production facilities, we conducted quarterly, semiannual or annual inspections using OGI, as required by Ohio EPA regulations. Based on U.S. EPA standard leak rates, our repairs to fugitive emissions components in 2018 in North Dakota reduced carbon dioxide emissions by an amount equivalent to removing more than 5,800 cars from the road.

 

AVO inspections involve observations (such as fluids dripping, spraying, misting or clouding from or around components), sound (such as hissing), and smell (because Hess equipment is typically in mixed hydrocarbon service, volatile organic compounds are typically present when leaks are identified). During such inspections, reliability operators monitor equipment for leaks as part of their daily work and document the results. We require reliability operators to be trained and experienced in the appropriate operation of each piece of equipment involved in their work activities and familiar with Hess operations in the areas where they work. They are also required to complete training on the Hess Standard Work documents for each piece of equipment subject to AVO inspection.

 

OGI is performed by the field assurance personnel in our regulatory group who are certified in the use of infrared thermal cameras and other monitoring techniques (such as U.S. EPA Method 21) to detect fugitive emissions.

 

If a leak is found during inspection, we have a “first attempt” deadline of five days for repair. If a repair within five days is not possible, the leak is documented and a fix is required within 30 days as per a prior Consent Decree with the North Dakota Department of Health (for North Dakota facilities – see page 53 of our 2016 Sustainability Report for more detail). These same requirements applied to our Ohio facilities, prior to their sale in 2018.

 

We have also committed to replace all remaining high-bleed pneumatic controllers across our North Dakota operations by 2022, or sooner when required by applicable regulation. In Ohio, our former operations run on instrument air and do not include high-bleed pneumatic controllers.

 

These measures, together with the steps we are taking to reduce flaring in North Dakota, will help to further reduce our fugitive emissions.

ONE Future Coalition

One element of our EHS & SR strategy has been to pursue voluntary reductions in methane emissions. As a result, Hess became a founding member of the ONE Future Coalition, a group of companies from across the natural gas industry focused on identifying policy and technical solutions that yield continuous improvement in the management of methane emissions associated with the production, processing, transportation and distribution of natural gas. ONE Future offers a performance-based, flexible approach that is expected to yield significant reductions in methane emissions. The goal is to voluntarily lower methane emissions to less than 1 percent of gross methane production across the U.S. value chain by 2025. ONE Future has also set interim 2020 sectoral targets. Peer-reviewed analyses indicate that a leak/loss rate of 1 percent or less across the U.S. natural gas value chain provides immediate GHG reduction benefits.

 

To achieve this goal, ONE Future has established methane emission rate targets for each sector of the natural gas value chain: production (0.28 percent), gathering and boosting (0.09 percent), processing (0.11 percent), transmission and storage (0.30 percent) and distribution (0.22 percent), which cumulatively total to the 1 percent target. In 2017 the ONE Future members’ cumulative methane emissions intensity was 0.55 percent across the U.S. onshore natural gas value chain.

 

Hess has activities in three of the ONE Future sectors: production, gathering and boosting, and processing. In 2018 our methane emissions rate for production was 0.45 percent, for gathering and boosting it was 0.20 percent and for processing it was 0.04 percent. Our onshore U.S. methane intensity was 0.69 percent, which is slightly above the ONE Future combined 2020 interim target of 0.64 percent for those three sectors. Our relative methane intensity increased in 2018 due to the sale of our joint-venture interests in the Utica shale play. With our planned reductions to flaring and the phaseout of high-bleed pneumatic controllers in North Dakota, we anticipate that we will achieve the ONE Future targets by 2025.

 

Our combined U.S. methane emissions intensity across our onshore and offshore operations was 0.31 percent, while our global methane intensity in 2018 was 0.18 percent.

 

From its inception, ONE Future has worked with the U.S. EPA to help ensure that any methane reduction achieved through its performance-based approach is recognized and accounted for in the agency’s Natural Gas Star Methane Challenge Program. In October 2016 both parties reached agreement on the ONE Future Emissions Intensity Commitment Option under the Methane Challenge Program. This allowed companies interested in joining the Methane Challenge Program to have the opportunity to choose from two options to reduce methane emissions: the Best Management Practice Commitment or the ONE Future Commitment, which gives credit for performance-based, voluntary reduction efforts.

 

Hess’ original intent was to report reductions achieved through our LDAR program under the Methane Challenge Program. However, Hess, as well as a number of other Bakken operators, entered into a Consent Decree with the North Dakota Department of Health in 2017 resolving alleged noncompliance with state air pollution laws and provisions of the federal Clean Air Act related to fugitive emissions. Pursuant to the Consent Decree, we were required to implement corrective actions, including implementation of an LDAR program at our existing upstream oil and natural gas production facilities in North Dakota. Given the Consent Decree, Hess did not commit individually to the Methane Challenge Program, although ONE Future is recognized as a Methane Challenge participant. Instead Hess has focused our resources on implementing our LDAR program in North Dakota.