From South Texas to Pennsylvania, we have field offices in top U.S. oil and natural gas plays.
Reducing spills is one of our key performance objectives — a goal that drives accountability across all employee levels. Using spill causal analysis, facility design and operational improvements, we have significantly decreased our number of spills reportable to regulatory agencies since 2013.
In 2018, we handled more than 194 million barrels of liquids, including freshwater, produced water and oil, and contained more than 99% of these liquids. Although we consider this rate to be successful, our goal is always zero spills.
Spill prevention initiatives have enabled us to make significant environmental performance improvements. Employees from our Engineering, Operations, and Health, Safety, Environment and Regulatory (HSER) teams collect and analyze spill data, identify spill causes and collaborate to implement operational design improvements to prevent spills. Our prevention efforts focus on several primary spill causes including: corrosion; weather; pipeline failure; and equipment failure.
One example of a spill prevention initiative is our integrity management efforts, which proactively identify and mitigate corrosion of the equipment holding our produced water.
Chesapeake stores produced water in API-certified tanks – a design standard required by the company across its plays. These tanks are made of either steel or fiberglass, a decision made by local operations teams taking into account water composition and local weather patterns.
All of our operating areas use API-12F steel tanks in some capacity, with our Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Powder River Basin sites using steel for produced water storage almost exclusively.
Over time, environmental conditions and produced water can corrode steel equipment, leading to the potential of a leak or malfunction. For this reason, our company design standard requires new and replacement steel storage tanks be internally coated to resist corrosion. The majority of our production lines, vessels and tanks are also treated with liquid corrosion inhibitors, which establish a thin, protective film between fluids that may be corrosive and the equipment’s internal steel surfaces.
For further safeguarding of our tanks and heater treaters, we encourage the use of anodes, pieces of sacrificial metal that corrode first and protect the integrity of our equipment. Sacrificial anodes are monitored and replaced periodically as part of our prevention initiatives.
In addition to this internal protection, we have an external coating standard – a protective primer and paint layer – for our steel tanks. We no longer position steel tanks directly on site grounds; rather, we place tanks on gravel rings or plastic or cement bases to prevent corrosion from standing rain or surface water.
Secondary containment for storage tanks is also a key element of our facility design and spill prevention efforts. Chesapeake’s corporate standard requires impervious containment to be installed around our tanks to capture any fluid that may escape primary containment. Secondary containment usually consists of steel walls layered with a polyurea coating, which is designed to last the lifetime of the facility.
Early detection of corrosion is key to mitigating risk, and operational staff receive training on how to identify corrosion as part of their routine field equipment inspections. We also monitor the effectiveness of our corrosion prevention programs by regularly testing our produced fluids for the presence of dissolved iron and manganese, by monitoring corrosion rates with installed corrosion coupons and probes, and by monitoring for the presence of bacteria known to contribute to steel surface corrosion.
In addition to these inspections, our tank monitoring sensors alert operational staff if tank levels change unexpectedly indicating the potential of a leak. Should a problem be identified, we either repair the corroded area or replace the equipment of concern. As an additional precaution, our Asset Integrity team conducts operational reviews to confirm the correct implementation of company design standards.
In addition to evaluating spill data, it is important to analyze “near misses” to help inform future actions and continuously improve our performance. Within our incident management database, we record situations in which incidents could have occurred, as well as the corrective actions taken. We also document “good catches,” which help to identify and remedy potential hazards.
If an incident does occur, Chesapeake activates a comprehensive, cross-functional team that focuses first on safety, then on environmental protection and regulatory compliance. At any time, this team and its resources are ready and available to respond.