Effluents and Waste
Why Managing It Matters
Wastewater and solid waste, such as drill mud and cuttings, are both by-products of the drilling process in our operations. Careful management of this waste, including the minimization and appropriate disposal of wastes, prevents spills and protects people and the environment.
Management Approach, Performance and Evaluation
EQT’s most prevalent by-products from the drilling process are wastewater from hydraulic fracturing and solid wastes, such as drill mud and cuttings. We pursue various strategies to recycle water (see Water for recycled water data) and are committed to identifying and employing safe waste disposal methods that reduce ecological impact and organizational costs. Additionally, to ensure the safety and health of our workers and communities and to preserve the environment, we abide by policies and procedures designed to minimize and mitigate liquid spills and releases. EQT enters into master service agreements with all contracted landfills to track disposed waste and periodically performs compliance inspections at those facilities.
EQT’s Corporate Director of Environmental Affairs leads our Environmental Department, which oversees and manages all aspects of our environmental footprint. This department reports to the Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety and is ultimately guided by the Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility Committee of the board of directors. Each quarter, we share environmental progress with the committee. Additionally, regulatory agencies in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio receive quarterly reports on EQT’s water usage, as required. We submit Chemical Analysis of Residual Waste reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection annually to satisfy regulatory waste reporting requirements for the state.
For our Appalachian Basin operations, EQT follows the Center for Responsible Shale Development (CRSD) performance standards, including maximizing water recycling to decrease wastewater volume, safe wastewater disposal and effluent monitoring. We recycle wastewater after the completion of a well by collecting flowback, drilling and produced water to reuse when fracturing new wells. In 2018, more than 90% of the wastewater we generated was recycled.
Any wastewater that cannot be recycled is disposed of at permitted commercial disposal facilities — typically underground injection facilities in Ohio — where formations are most suitable for injection. EQT conducts annual inspections of these facilities to ensure they are operating in compliance with their permit. While increased seismic activity due to wastewater disposal can be a concern, EQT believes Ohio’s recent upgrades to its injection and permitting program address potential seismicity problems. Further, the volumes injected are relatively small compared to other states that have experienced seismicity, such as Oklahoma, where the injection is roughly 50 times more than Ohio. For example, in 2014, 1.54 billion gallons were injected in Oklahoma compared to 28.5 million gallons injected in Ohio.
We frequently evaluate wastewater treatment technologies that could further reduce disposal amounts. For instance, in 2017, we piloted an evaporation-based treatment technology to treat wastewater, and in 2018, we installed evaporator technology at a well pad in Tioga County, Pa. These technologies concentrate the waste stream and reduce the amount of wastewater needing disposal.
We do not intentionally discharge any wastewater and did not hold any permits to discharge wastewater in 2018. We are the fourth of the founding members to meet or exceed all 15 CRSD Performance Standards of environmental stewardship and continuous improvement for air and water protection.
EQT does not discharge any produced water to surface water; therefore, no strategies or criteria are necessary for disposal and treatment; no report standards for produced water quality are required; and EQT has no volume of hydrocarbon discharged in produced water to report.
|Volume (m3)||Percentage||Volume (m3)||Percentage||Volume (m3)||Percentage|
|Disposed by injection well||193,568||11.5%||240,160||14.8%||268,711||7%|
|Disposed by solidification in landfill||0||0%||0||0%||0||0%|
|Disposed at a recycling facility||137,659||8.1%||2,589||0.2%||27,644||1%|
|TOTAL VOLUME OF PRODUCED WATER||1,690,451||100%||1,622,663||100%||3,630,662||100%|
*All data exclude midstream operations.
†Our 2018 volumes increased from 2017 due to the increase in scope our assets — wells and pads — as a result of the Rice acquisition.
‡Water reused represents produced water that has been recycled for future in-house or third-party completion operations.
Spill Prevention and Management
To reduce the likelihood and impact of significant spills, we maintain Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans for every worksite that stores fluid. These comprehensive plans, based on regulation established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), guide our employees and contractors to minimize the chance for a release and dictate the actions required should a spill occur. The plans define training programs, inspection protocols, secondary containment monitoring and repair programs required at each of our natural gas wells and compressor stations.
Our emergency response and preparedness program requires the following actions in the event an incident occurs:
- Determine the source and type of spill, and begin taking corrective action.
- Evacuate any employees requiring medical attention.
- Isolate the area, and stop the spill as soon as possible using appropriate methods.
- Contain the spill with available resources, including containment ditches, diking and spill kits complete with absorbent booms, pads, pillows and personal protective equipment (EQT does not use chemical dispersants).
- Notify the immediate supervisor or area manager and the environmental coordinator of all spills and complete an environmental incident investigation form.
- Perform, or observe, proper clean-up measures as directed by the environmental coordinator.
In the event of a spill, EQT uses appropriate clean-up techniques to mitigate the spill’s effects, including removal of effluents from soil. We promptly remove and dispose of clean-up materials according to prevailing federal, state and local regulatory requirements, minimizing impact on the environment and local community. We then evaluate the cause of the spill to identify and implement corrective action. We work to prevent repeat accidents by integrating improved techniques and protocols into design standards, operations and future spill prevention plans. We share these with employees and contractors to continuously improve our operations.
In August 2018, EQT had an unintentional release of 10 barrels of produced water from a temporary storage tank. The access hatch on a tank was not fully bolted shut, providing a pathway for the produced water to be released. The secondary containment around the tank leaked and the water flowed downhill to a small pond. The company remediated the site by removing the affected soil, gravel and water.
Additionally, in 2018, EQT experienced 63 reportable events. These were related to any spill, release or discharge to the environment that triggered a permit or regulatory reporting requirement to a state or federal agency. It should be noted that Pennsylvania reporting requirements are the most stringent of the states in which we operate with any spill of 5 gallons or more to soil being reportable. EQT did not use any chemical dispersants in our cleanup measures, which entailed a complete recovery — removal and disposal — of contaminated gravel and soil where required. Only one spill reached a waterway, as described above. Please refer to the below chart for more information.
|Total spills resulting in release||63||415.44|
|Hydrocarbon release >1 BBL||11||174.80|
|Nonhydrocarbon releases >1 BBL||14||227.60|
|TOTAL SPILLS RESULTING IN RELEASE >1 BBL||25||402.40|
EQT does not operate in the Arctic and, therefore, did not have any spills impact the Arctic or shorelines with Environmentally Sensitive Index (ESI) rankings 8-10.
EQT’s drill mud and cuttings are processed using solids control equipment that efficiently separate drilling fluids from solids. Drying agents then remove any residual moisture, and the dried cuttings are containerized and trucked to landfills that are pre-approved to accept these solids in their permitted disposal cells. EQT continues to improve the efficiency of its solids management program by using higher efficiency systems that create better separation of drilling fluid and drill cuttings, reducing the overall weight of the disposed product. Using more effective drying agents decreases the amount of agents needed, which also decreases the weight of the disposed product.
In 2018, we landfilled 337,403 tons of drill mud and cuttings from our operations. As per 40 CFR 261.4(b)(5), oil and gas wastes are excluded from the definition of Hazardous Waste. As such, we do not have hazardous waste associated with our production activities and therefore did not create or transport hazardous waste in 2018.
|Recovery, including energy recovery (tons)||0||0||0|
|Deep well injection (bbls)||1,185,416||1,642,073||2,195,118|
|On-site storage (tons)||0||0||0|
|TOTAL SOLIDS (tons)||195,286||219,578||393,726|
|TOTAL LIQUIDS (bbls)||12,454,951||13,038,567||29,649,233|
*Data excludes midstream operations. Our 2018 volumes increased from 2017 due to the increase in scope our assets — wells and pads — from the Rice acquisition.
Disposal methods for 2016, 2017 and 2018 were determined by the company based on the availability and proximity of pre-approved waste facilities. While disposal methods for our solid waste vary, we seek the most efficient, responsible and cost-effective methods possible. Our priority is to reuse or recycle, but we also use landfills, deep well injection or other approved methods when appropriate. In doing so, we comply with all regulatory requirements for the state or region.