Energy Production & the Environment | Hess Corporation
Hess Respecting the Environment image
Hess Corporation Logo header



Safeguarding the environment is a key aspect of the Hess Values, which set the framework for how we operate.

Managing environmental impacts — including water and energy use, air emissions, waste and spills — is an important aspect of the work we do every day. 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.

Water Management

Water management is one of our material issues and a key element of our environment, health, safety and social responsibility (EHS & SR) strategy. Water is a critical resource for our onshore exploration and production operations, where it is used primarily for cooling purposes in both our upstream and midstream operations, as well as for drilling and completions, including hydraulic fracturing. We know water is also an important resource for the communities and ecosystems in which we operate. In some areas where we operate, our water use may be restricted by local limitations on water supply and disposal.

We are committed, throughout our operations, to evaluating and reducing our water footprint. In 2017 we continued development of our risk-based, lifecycle approach to managing water, as well as 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. 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 2017 we continued to enhance our LDAR field assurance team. To help ensure compliance, our LDAR field assurance 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 conducted monthly in 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 and, until we sold the Permian asset, the Texas gas plant. At our Ohio production facilities, we conduct quarterly, semiannual or annual inspections using OGI, as required. Per the regulations of the Ohio EPA, we are able to move to semiannual or annual inspections after a period of demonstrating de minimis leak rates for permitted equipment. Based on U.S. EPA standard leak rates, our repairs to fugitive emissions components in 2017 in North Dakota reduced carbon dioxide emissions by an amount equivalent to removing nearly 6,000 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). Our Reliability Operators conduct monthly documented AVO inspections at all of our operated facilities. In addition, they monitor equipment for leaks as part of their daily work. We require Reliability Operators to be trained and experienced in the appropriate operation of each piece of equipment and familiar with Hess operations in the area where they are working. 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 the Consent Decree with the North Dakota Department of Health (for North Dakota facilities – see page 53 of our 2016 Sustainability Report for more detail) and Ohio EPA requirements (for Ohio facilities).

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 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 value chain by 2025. Peer-reviewed analyses indicate that a leak/loss rate of 1 percent or less across the 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 (0.36 percent), processing (0.11 percent), transmission and storage (0.30 percent) and distribution (0.22 percent), which cumulatively total to the 1 percent target. Hess has activities in two sectors, production and processing. In 2017 our methane emissions rate for production was 0.13 percent, and our emissions rate from processing was 0.14 percent. Our combined methane emissions rate from the production and processing sectors was 0.13 percent, which is well below the ONE Future combined target of 0.47 percent for those two sectors.

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.