PDC Energy views Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) as an integral part of its business planning, development and decision-making processes. Responsible EHS performance is paramount to our success and the top priority of every employee. Our EHS culture stresses personal accountability among everyone involved in our operations.
Our dedicated EHS committee, co-chaired by our Senior Vice President of Operations and General Counsel, meets every quarter to track our progress on various EHS initiatives and weigh in on upcoming operational decisions. Additionally, our Board of Directors receives formalized quarterly updates on the various EHS and social initiatives we pursue.
Safety is our highest priority. Upon hiring, all of our field employees receive safety training followed by frequent to reinforce safety knowledge. It’s also important to us that our contractors and anyone who may be present on our locations are aware of our safety expectations and are held to the same high standard.
- Daily, Weekly and Monthly Safety Meetings
- Annual and Bi-Annual Recertification Training which includes CPR and First Aid
Examples of our wide variety of trainings include, but are not limited to:
- Defensive Driving
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Job Safety Analysis (JSA)
- Fire Protection and Fire Extinguisher Use
- Wildlife Awareness
- Colorado Regulations
- Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasures (SPCC)
- Stop-Work Authority, which authorizes any employee to raise a concern about safety and have all work cease until the issue is addressed.
As we continue to grow, we are actively seeking out opportunities to run our operations in ways that are safer, more environmentally friendly, and/or more efficient.
Reducing Tanks on Site: Over the next few years, we will be working to reduce the number of storage tanks and truck traffic at our facilities. Moving liquids through pipelines is a critical first step and eventually we hope to be able to construct reduced-footprint locations with only 1-2 tanks on site. This innovative approach to production facility design is expected to minimize emission sources and potential for spills.
Powering our Fields: Oil and natural gas development often occurs in areas that are far from the nearest power lines, requiring operators to use power generators, which produce emissions. We are seeking out solutions that allow us to move away from generators and toward more environmentally-friendly options. In the Delaware Basin in Texas, we are running our own power lines to displace engine use and in the Wattenberg Field in Colorado, we are working with local power companies and contributing the funds needed to upgrade electrical systems for the benefit of the community, while reducing emissions.
Using Solar in the Fields: An outside visitor to a PDC production site might be surprised to see large solar panels connected to our facilities. In fact, they’re a common component in our site design. We are using solar panels to monitor and control remote well sites. Not only are they environmentally-friendly, they’re also critical in many remote areas.
As part of our commitment to the U.S. EPA and the State of Colorado, following our Consent Decree, we have developed an industry-leading air quality protection program for our Colorado operations. Over the course of 5 years, we will spend roughly $20 million on additional air quality emission controls and programs. This includes modifying how we manage our emissions, increasing inspections and installing and monitoring tank pressure monitors. These changes will continue to reduce our air emissions in Colorado’s Wattenberg field and reflect our strong commitment to protecting Colorado’s environment.
Our employees are trained to conduct audio, visual and olfactory (AVO) inspections. In many cases, our employees can detect the emissions using AVO during their normal visits to our locations. We also have a robust air quality compliance monitoring program that utilizes state-of-the-art infrared (IR) cameras that allow our employees to see emissions that are undetectable with the naked eye. This allows our employees to see emissions in real time and enables faster corrective actions to stop those emissions.
Operational efficiencies and innovations in pipelines used for oil and water in our Texas and Colorado operations has allowed us to reduce truck traffic by roughly 260,000 truck loads, per year. This reduced traffic footprint also leads to air quality improvement, with an estimated 800 tons per year reduction in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and significantly less fugitive dust emissions. We recently modified and extended a Wattenberg pipeline agreement to further strengthen our commitment to reduced truck traffic by delivering more oil via pipe.
As the conversation over the risks of climate change has increased, we understand that some of our stakeholders may have questions and concerns. It’s important for us to be a part of that conversation and to express our commitment to the protection of the environment.
Our core values emphasize integrity and respect for the environment and the health, safety and well-being of our employees and communities where we live and work. To that end, we recognize the importance of producing an affordable, reliable and abundant energy source in a way that minimizes emissions and lessens potential impact on the environment.
For example, PDC:
- Has a robust air quality compliance monitoring program that utilizes state-of-the-art emissions cameras. These cameras use infrared technology to detect natural gas, allowing our employees to see leaks in real time – enabling faster corrective actions.
- Utilizes pipelines to transport materials, decreasing emissions from truck traffic.
- Is exploring new technologies around reduced tank facilities. This innovative approach to production facility design is expected to minimize emission sources and potential for spills.
- Has a program to safely plug and abandon wells that have reached the end of their production life.
Minimizing our impact is the right thing to do and allows us to grow in a way that’s cleaner, more innovative and more efficient.
As part of our commitment to environmental stewardship and best-in-class operatorship, PDC has increased focus on decreasing routine flaring, resulting in subsequent reductions in our flaring intensity. In 2019, PDC flared approximately 1.6% of total gross production volumes. In 2020, our teams made significant improvements, with a corporate flaring intensity below 0.5%. In an effort to demonstrate our commitment to further improvement, PDC has aligned with the World Bank “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” initiative – with aspirations to achieve this goal sooner.
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) describe how employees and contractors should handle materials in their day-to-day use. PDC Energy provides this important health, environment and safety information to employees, customers, suppliers and others.
PDC is proud to have joined The Environmental Partnership. This industry-led program includes over 50 oil and natural gas-producing companies representing nearly one-third of domestic production, who work continuously to improve their environmental performance.
Participants in The Environmental Partnership have also been employing at least one of three Environmental Performance Programs designed to further reduce emissions. These include:
- Monitoring and quickly repairing fugitive emissions at selected sites utilizing detection methods and technologies such as portable analyzers or optical gas imaging cameras.
- Replacing, removing or retrofitting high-bleed pneumatic controllers with low- or zero-emitting devices.
- Minimizing emissions associated with the removal of liquids that may occasionally build up and restrict natural gas flow.
PDC Energy is participating in all three Environmental Performance Programs.
Training and Education
Field employees were trained on over 35 safety related topics in 2020.
Health and Safety
In early 2021, PDC’s Wattenberg and Delaware asset teams each surpassed 1,000 days without a lost-time injury.
Commitment to Environment
In 2021, PDC plans to invest ~$25 million in the plugging and reclamation of approximately 350 legacy vertical Wattenberg wells.