Cabot is committed to being a good steward of all of our natural resources and preserving the air quality surrounding our operations is a critical part of our Environment, Health and Safety program. Ensuring that produced gas does not escape into the surrounding air is not only a requirement of the many state laws and regulations of the states in which we operate, but a sound business practice, as it maximizes the volume of gas available for sale to our customers. The quantity of emissions and efforts to minimize those emissions are regulated by both federal and state air quality regulations. These regulations establish emissions limits, emissions control requirements, monitoring, testing, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, to protect and maintain air quality. Our air quality programs work to ensure that our operations meet or exceed these federal and state regulations.
The main components of our air quality program are:
While the scientific community is in disagreement regarding the causes, contributing factors and effects of climate change, Cabot is committed to a responsible reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions to the extent that doing so improves efficiencies in our operations and gives direct returns to our shareholders. Over the last two years, we have been engaged in extensive efforts to measure and reduce our GHG emissions from all sources, including heaters, pneumatic devices, drilling rigs, venting and flaring in completion operations, engines in completion operations and fugitive methane. One example of this effort in 2013 was a concentrated effort to reduce our use of diesel fuel and gasoline in our operations in favor of cleaner-burning compressed natural gas (“CNG”) and we are committed to continuing this effort in 2014 and beyond. For every unit of CNG we burn instead of gasoline or diesel in our operations—in drilling, completion and transportation vehicles—we reduce our CO2 emissions by at least 25%. Our achievements in this area in 2013 can be found here.
In 2014, we are committed to a continued focus on natural gas usage to further reduce our operating costs, with the added benefit to the environment of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions even further. As of December 2013, we estimated these reductions for the full year 2014, assuming production at 2013 levels, as follows:
- In transportation: estimated displacement of approximately 110,000 gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE);
- In drilling operations: estimated displacement of approximately 1.1 million diesel gallon equivalents (DGE) with during 2014 and plans to utilize CNG/line gas in 100% of future drilling operations for estimated displacement of over 2.5 million DGE per year (as rigs with this capability become available and are deployed);
- In completion operations: estimate displacement of approximately 1.5 million DGE in 2014 and plans to utilize line gas in 100% of future completion operations for estimated displacement of approximately 2.6 million DGE per year (as dual-fuel engines become available and are deployed).
While we are actively engaged in reducing emissions from all areas of our operations, the replacement of diesel and gasoline fuel with CNG provides a measurable, direct return to our investors and to the environment and is just one way Cabot is supporting global efforts to reduce GHG emissions.
Some elements of Cabot’s emission control program include:
- Promoting the use of green completions that minimize venting of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and methane during well completion
- Using lean burning engines to minimize NOX emissions
- Installing additional catalyst banks on engines controlled with catalysts
- Using flash tanks and BTEX recovery systems on glycol reboilers
- Installing vapor recovery towers to provide flash gas recovery at near atmospheric pressure prior to delivery to the storage tanks
- Pro-actively identifying and addressing areas of possible fugitive emissions containing VOCs and methane. Programs are being established to conduct general surveys of compressor sites, wellheads, tank batteries, production equipment and associated piping
We implemented our GHG Compliance Team in 2010 in order to gather information, develop a plan to monitor our emissions and manage our reporting requirements under the federal GHG reporting requirements. The work of this team led to the development of an air module in our Asset and Compliance Tracking System (ACTS), which is the data gathering and report generating platform for GHG emissions that will support our evolving air quality program.
We are working with various vendors through our purchasing department and facilities engineering groups to ensure facility designs incorporate emissions reductions technology where appropriate. Changes to design specifications to include the use of low-bleed/zero-bleed controllers and vapor recovery units, among other things, are being incorporated into designs where feasible.
Our Safety & Environmental Affairs Committee of our board of directors reviews our GHG program annually, including our GHG reports and benchmarking data.
We also participate in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Natural Gas STAR program. The Natural Gas STAR program is a voluntary program which encourages oil and natural gas companies to adopt proven, cost-effective technologies and practices that improve operational efficiencies and reduce methane emissions to the atmosphere.
Want to know more? Click to read more about how Cabot is Protecting and Improving Air Quality.