Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Devon takes a proactive approach to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and other greenhouse gases (GHG) that trap heat in the atmosphere. Reducing GHG emissions intensity is one of the guiding principles in our EHS Philosophy.
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. In the U.S., 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. In Canada, emissions are reported according to provincial and federal regulatory requirements.
Our commitment to environmental stewardship includes delivering visible, measurable results. For 14 years, Devon has voluntarily participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), providing an annual look at what we’re doing to control and reduce emissions. Our CDP climate change disclosures are publicly available (see links at right).
Devon’s response to the Disclosing the Facts survey, which is sponsored by As You Sow, a non-profit that works in the area of shareholder advocacy (see link right).
We apply industry-leading tools and techniques to capture methane in our well completions and production equipment. We perform frequent equipment inspections across our operating areas using optical gas-imaging cameras to detect leaks. We’ve invested more than $1 million in infrared cameras, a key tool in our LDAR (leak detection and repair) program. Our inspections are prioritized on our highest-volume facilities. In the U.S., we have hired environmental operators whose primary focus is conducting infrared camera surveys and making sure that repairs are successful. Our surveys comply with the requirements for production sites under EPA regulations and Bureau of Land Management venting and flaring regulations. We seek to avoid venting and limit flaring at all locations. It’s important that we capture and retain as much gas as possible by continually evaluating and optimizing facility design; installing and maintaining reliable pressure-relief valves to minimize tank release; installing vapor-recovery equipment to capture flash gas emissions and route them to a pipeline; and utilizing green completions during flowback operations. Where flaring is unavoidable, we install monitoring equipment to help ensure the gas is properly destroyed rather than vented.
To help our field 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 them, all of which are required for compliance. It’s made our LDAR program more efficient, consistent and systematic. It also has enabled us to track and trend our repairs so that we can further refine our proactive maintenance programs.
More details about our LDAR program are available in our Disclosing the Facts survey response and our CDP Climate Change Report.
A target to limit emissions
We announced in June 2019 that we’re establishing a voluntary target to limit methane emissions for U.S. oil and natural gas production operations. By 2025, we believe we can achieve a methane-intensity rate of 0.28 percent or lower. In 2018, Devon’s methane intensity rate was estimated at 0.32 percent, pending EPA review and third-party verification. The methane intensity rate will be calculated based on emissions from Devon-operated oil and natural gas production facilities as a percentage of natural gas produced.
By continuing to operate responsibly and increasing our focus on leak detection and repair, we’re confident we can meet the target. The actions we’re taking reaffirm our commitment to responsible production operations, going beyond what is required by law in pursuit of continuous improvement in environmental performance.
We expect the data collected through our LDAR program to help us establish best management practices and identify technology, equipment and materials for improved performance. We already incorporate short-term emissions performance as a factor in executive and employee compensation; setting a longer-term target signals the next step forward in our proactive pursuit of environmental protection and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Devon Canada GHG emissions performance
In steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) production, the primary source of GHG emissions is steam generation. Emissions intensity performance is heavily correlated to the amount of steam used to produce oil, also known as the steam-to-oil ratio (SOR). Devon’s Jackfish complex in northeastern Alberta has a competitive SOR compared to peer facilities. The Jackfish complex also is designed to capture and use the gas that is produced on-site.
In Alberta, GHG emissions are regulated under Alberta’s Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulation. This regulation puts a price on carbon and requires facilities to meet a product-based performance standard. There has been a price on carbon in Alberta since 2007.
Devon also has Canadian heavy oil production that does not use steam. At Bonnyville, we capture gas produced with our cold-flow oil production. We use it as fuel, and when economically feasible, we route it via pipeline to be sold. Our focus on reducing vented emissions has allowed us to increase the amount of gas that we conserve from 78 percent in 2015 to almost 90 percent in 2017.
Details about the sources, reduction programs and metrics for our GHG emissions are available in our CDP Climate Change Report, which is also publicly available at www.cdp.net.
Over the past several years, we have implemented new technologies and upgraded our existing operations to reduce methane emissions from production sites. Since 2011, we’ve replaced high-bleed controllers on hundreds of wells in Wyoming, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, and we no longer use them on new wells. We’re also investigating other new ways to reduce methane emissions from our operations.
Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance
Devon is a founding member in Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), whose members collaborate on innovations for finding ways to reduce the need for steam during heavy oil extraction – increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions. Devon Canada also is supporting the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, a global competition encouraging development of new technologies that convert CO2 into valuable products. Prize finalists announced in April 2018 are working on technologies that could reduce the cost of managing CO2. As a member of COSIA, Devon funded the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC) where half of the XPRIZE finalists will test their technologies. ACCTC is the first of its kind in Canada and provides innovators with the ability to test and refine their technologies for years to come using flue gas emissions from a natural gas-fired power plant.