Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

We recognize the oil and natural gas industry’s charge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a byproduct of our operations. We are committed to reducing our emissions of both carbon dioxide and methane through enhanced facility design, advanced technology to identify and repair leaks, and the use of low-emission fuels where available.  

Enhanced Facility Design

To strengthen employee safety, environmental protection and operability, Chesapeake applies specific equipment and process standards when designing oil and gas production sites. Developed through collaboration between the Operations, Engineering and Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) departments, Chesapeake’s design standards work to reduce site emissions by containing potential air pollutants and greenhouse gases within the facility. For example, standard designs include low-bleed pneumatic devices, automatic tank gauging, and the capability for remote site monitoring; all of which result in a smaller emissions footprint for each site.

It is our intention to capitalize on our natural gas; however, in the instance that it cannot be contained for sale or transportation, it is safely routed to a flare or combustor for destruction. Flaring is the practice of safely combusting natural gas that cannot be sold or transported due to operational or economic limitations. In addition, flaring reduces our greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions and protects our employees.

Chesapeake’s flares and combustors are controlled by a burner management system (BMS), a best practice in the industry. A BMS automates and simplifies the startup, normal operation and shutdown of a burner and provides confidence that the flare or combustor is operating effectively.

This system also enhances the safety of our sites for employees. Since the BMS is self-contained and online, employees can monitor flare and combustor operation from a central location. Using the BMS, employees can also safely light the flare or combustor pilot, power the fuel valves and measure the flame temperature. If the system detects a problem with the flare, the emergency shut-down function activates.

In addition to the BMS, our sites also operate with intermittent or low-bleed pneumatic devices when feasible because they emit significantly less gas during operation. These pneumatic devices are most commonly used to control when our separators and heater-treaters send liquid to the storage tanks. 

As part of normal operations, bleeding pneumatic devices vent natural gas. Intermittent or low-bleed pneumatic devices, as compared to high-bleed devices, conserve our natural gas and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On Chesapeake sites, newly installed pneumatic controllers are not high bleed unless specific justification is provided. Due to this practice, and our retrofit program, fewer than 1% of pneumatic controllers on our production sites were classified as high bleed and reported under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. We anticipate that the count of high bleed controllers in our operations will continue to decrease going forward.  

Leak Detection and Repair Program

Chesapeake utilizes forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras to detect leaks and to direct specific maintenance activities. The infrared camera allows field technicians to visualize leaks that may otherwise be invisible to the naked eye as well as help pinpoint the leak source itself. Leaks discovered with the FLIR camera are repaired, improving employee safety at our well sites and reducing our environmental footprint. Chesapeake also utilizes the infrared cameras to evaluate new equipment and technologies that can help to further reduce air emissions. 

Low-Emission Fuels

Operating on alternative fuels can reduce both emissions and waste, and provide cost savings for the company depending on the availability of fuel sources. In 2015, nearly 20% of our rigs and 22 completion operations were powered by alternative fuels, as opposed to 100% diesel. Those drilling sites powered by the electric grid, one of our alternative fuel options, experienced a reduction of direct emissions by as high as 95%.

At most production sites in Oklahoma, South Texas and the Rockies, we are utilizing natural gas generators or Electrical Distribution Systems to power site equipment. In total, we have utilized an alternative fuel source in each of our operating regions.

Specific to our vehicle fleet, nearly 50% of Chesapeake’s vehicles run on compressed natural gas (CNG). This fuel emits far less emissions than gasoline and diesel — from 20 to 30% less CO2. We encourage our fleet drivers to utilize CNG as their primary fuel for at least 80% of their drive time. In addition to environmental benefits, CNG offers Chesapeake significant fuel cost savings — nearly $550,000 in 2015 alone.