Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and other greenhouse gases (GHG) is important to us. We’re taking our proactive approach a step further by voluntarily establishing a methane-reduction target.
Cutting GHG and methane emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere is important to our stakeholders and material to running an efficient, compliant oil and natural gas production business. We’ve made reducing GHG emissions intensity a pillar of our EHS Philosophy, and we apply industry-leading tools and techniques to capture methane in our well completions and production equipment.
GHG emissions methodology and performance
Devon reports air emissions from fuel combustion, flaring, fugitive emissions, venting and storage losses (Scope 1) and electricity consumption (Scope 2) for assets under our operational control. We collect data and submit annual GHG emissions according to the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule.
Our commitment to environmental stewardship includes delivering visible, measurable results.
We’ve demonstrated this by voluntarily reporting on how we control and reduce emissions via CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) for 15 years. Our CDP climate change disclosures are publicly available (see links at right).
Partnering, not competing
Devon is a founding member of The Environmental Partnership, a group of companies in the U.S. oil and natural gas industry committed to improving environmental performance. It includes companies of all sizes, including many of the country’s major producers.
We believe that addressing environmental impacts is an important component of securing our social license to operate. To that end, The Environmental Partnership’s initial focus is on solutions that are technically feasible, are commercially proven and will result in significant emissions reductions.
The Environmental Partnership provides a forum for participants to share information and analyze best practices and technological breakthroughs in order to help improve our understanding of emissions and how best to reduce them.
Reducing methane intensity
We’ve reduced our methane emissions by nearly 20% over the last three years, mainly through our increasing use of technology. To reinforce our commitment to emissions reductions, we have established a target to limit methane emissions from our oil and natural gas production operations. We are committed to reducing our methane intensity rate to 0.28% or lower by 2025, calculating the rate based off emissions from Devon-operated oil and natural gas production facilities as a percentage of natural gas produced. Devon’s methane-intensity rate was 0.324% at year-end 2018. Our methane intensity calculations have undergone third-party verification.
As part of our overall methane management program and to achieve and maintain our intensity goal, Devon has implemented and will continue to expand our use of emission-reduction technologies and work practices going beyond what is required by regulations.
Leak detection and repair program
Among our primary means of emissions reductions is expansion of our ongoing leak detection and repair (LDAR) program. To date, we’ve invested more than $1 million in infrared cameras to perform frequent equipment inspections across our operating areas using optical gas imaging cameras to detect leaks, prioritizing our inspections on facilities with the highest production volumes. LDAR surveys are performed in all new facilities built since 2015. To meet our new emissions reduction target, we’ll continue to expand the surveys to facilities that don’t currently have a federal or state regulatory requirement.
Each Devon business unit employs environmental operators who are primarily focused on conducting infrared camera surveys and making sure repairs are successful. Using LDAR data, we’ve been able to further refine our proactive maintenance programs by identifying the equipment most likely to develop leaks. This has led to replacing certain tank valves with thief hatches that have a lower leak rate and focusing on specific equipment failures and settings. It has also improved flare maintenance and allowed us to verify performance of vapor recovery units (VRU). In 2018, our operators surveyed nearly 1,500 Devon facilities across all four of our U.S. business units. They found very few leaks, and almost all the leaks they found were repaired on the same day.
To help our offices meet the regulatory requirements for inspections, our environmental and operations teams developed a mobile app to capture, enter, track and document LDAR survey findings. The app automatically syncs with our enterprise data system, schedules any needed repairs, creates work orders and documents successful repairs, all of which are required for compliance. As a result, our LDAR program is more efficient, consistent and systematic, and we can track our repairs to further refine our preventive maintenance programs.
We strive to avoid venting and to limit flaring at all locations, both to protect the environment and to capture and retain as much gas as possible for its economic value. To do this, we continually evaluate and optimize facility design; install and maintain reliable pressure-relief valves to minimize tank releases; install vapor-recovery equipment to capture flash gas emissions and route them to a pipeline. We also use green completions to capture produced gas during completions and well workovers following hydraulic fracturing. Where flaring is unavoidable, we install monitoring equipment to help ensure the gas is properly destroyed rather than vented.
In recent years, Devon has implemented new technologies and upgraded our existing operations to reduce methane emissions from production sites. Since 2011, we’ve replaced high-bleed natural gas pneumatic controllers on hundreds of wells in Wyoming, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, and we no longer use them on new wells.
We’ll continue to take a proactive approach to reducing both emissions and emissions intensity, with a focus on detecting and repairing leaks, capturing methane to avoid venting and flaring, implementing new technologies, upgrading existing facilities and complying with regulations. We believe this will help Devon protect the environment, while earning stakeholder trust and lowering the costs of regulatory compliance.