We believe that innovation, efficiency and technology are the most effective methods for minimizing our environmental footprint. As part of our operational strategy, we challenge our teams to identify and implement new ways to enhance our processes. The examples below highlight ways we drive continuous improvement across the lifecycle of our operations.
Innovation in Action
Our teams drive continuous improvement across our operations, finding the intersection between efficiency and environmental benefits.
Reducing frac hits by using less fluid
Infill wells – new wells drilled near legacy or “parent” wells – have become common in shale plays, enabling access to more resources while limiting operational footprint. However, during completion activities, hydraulic fracturing fluids from a new well can affect pre-existing parent wells, causing a “frac hit.” This “hit” creates pressure loss in parent wells, leading to lower production and the potential to damage production tubing, casing and even wellheads.
To mitigate frac hits, we changed our completions design to use less fluid in the hydraulic fracturing process. In addition to preserving production, this technique typically uses less water, can mitigate induced seismicity during hydraulic fracturing operations and reduces flaring and associated emissions upon flowback.
Transforming completions with simul-fracs
Simul-frac, an innovative completions technique, is now used extensively across all our operating areas. The process involves hydraulically fracturing two wells at once. By pumping down two wells, we can do more with the same amount of horsepower, leading to reduced fuel use and wear on equipment. Unlike a zipper frac, where one well is completed with 100 barrels of fluid per minute, simul-fracs use 160 to 180 barrels of fluid per minute between two wells. In the Uinta Basin, simul-fracs have delivered a 300% efficiency gain. With significant energy, emissions and cost efficiencies already achieved, we continue to explore opportunities to further optimize simul-fracs in our operations.
Using wet sand to lower environmental impacts and operating costs
By using wet sand, we lower the environmental footprint of the mining process. Not only do we avoid the energy-intensive drying process, but there is no need for routing gas or electric lines to the dryer equipment or obtaining regulatory air permits. Storage is also more efficient because wet sand can be stocked in large, low-cost decanting piles. In addition to lowering costs, using wet sand reduces the amount of hazardous airborne dust that can occur with dry sand.
Locally sourcing wet sand has the added benefit of reducing transportation from traditional mines that are typically located long distances from the wellhead.
Chief Engineering Organization
Our unique Chief Engineering organization exemplifies Ovintiv’s commitment to innovation and teamwork. This small group of highly experienced, proven experts from key parts of our operations facilitate a multi-basin approach to reducing costs, solving complex challenges, developing new products and sharing emerging technology across disciplines. The organization was developed internally to drive continuous improvement through collaboration and the pursuit of innovative ideas. Knowledge sharing is enhanced through technical exchanges and advisors embedded within the operating teams.
Ovintiv has established an emissions reduction task force within the Chief Engineering organization. It has been charged with identifying and evaluating operational emissions reduction opportunities among other environmental improvements.
Shale Technology Exchange (STE)
Ovintiv’s STE Conference is our longest-running technical forum. It brings together hundreds of participants in highly technical roles to share learnings, success stories and build a strong network of colleagues across the organization. It is a three-day event that has grown to include external keynote speakers, in addition to our internal showcase of top technical talent. Each year has a specific theme that reflects our corporate strategy and highlights our key areas of focus. Keynote addresses are also live–streamed for employees unable to attend in person to participate virtually from their desks.
We believe collaboration solves problems and improves outcomes. We participate in trade associations and partner with government and other organizations to investigate challenges that impact our industry and increase scientific knowledge of the attributes and behaviors of the rocks and reservoirs where we operate. The results of this research often inform best management practices relating to production efficiencies, the environment and the health and safety of our employees.
The Environmental Partnership
Ovintiv was a founding member of The Environmental Partnership, a group of 90 oil and natural gas companies of all sizes, committed to reducing the industry’s environmental impact. By learning from each other and taking action, we identify emissions reduction solutions that are technically feasible and commercially proven. A key focus area of the Partnership has been developing basin–level action plans aimed at reducing emissions.
Ovintiv is an active member of Darcy Partners, an innovation hub that brings energy industry members together to collaborate to find solutions to technology challenges. Darcy members collectively represent over 60% of North America oil and gas production and over 35% of the global production.
Member companies participate in regular technology and innovation forums, have access to the latest innovation research, and engage in weekly knowledge sharing presentations to share learnings and collaborate on complex, technical challenges. Forum topics range from highly technical engineering discussions to forward looking, future opportunity outlooks.
Darcy partners serves as a valuable crowd-sourcing tool to disseminate new ideas and spread new technology across the industry, fostering relationships and encouraging collaboration.
Colorado Oil & Gas Cleantech Challenge
Ovintiv is a proud sponsor of the Colorado Cleantech Industries Association Foundation’s (CCIAF) Oil & Gas Cleantech Challenge, a product innovation showcase and competition that connects clean technology solutions to the oil and natural gas industry including technologies that address methane mitigation, resource usage, water quality and operational risks.
The innovative solutions providers go through a robust vetting process, where the top 12 companies are identified and invited to present their technologies to the partners and sponsors at the live event.
We have leveraged the winning technology from the 2021 Challenge from Calgary-based cleantech startup, Kathairos Solutions. We are utilizing their Simple Methane Elimination project which uses liquid nitrogen – a non-toxic, non-polluting gas – to power remote oil and natural gas wellsites. These units have been installed on over 40 multi-well pad sites in our Alberta Pipestone operations and are a significant factor in our Alberta low-emitting facility design.
Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC)
PTAC serves as a third-party, non-profit facilitator of research and technology development and manages the industry-sponsored Alberta Upstream Petroleum Research Fund (AUPRF). This fund supports independent peer-reviewed research performed by consultants and scientists (government and academia) to increase knowledge, assist in decision-making and develop solutions to industry environment, social and governance matters.
The work has been focused on evaluating emissions reduction technologies via the PTAC Methane Consortia including various electric and instrument air-powered actuation pilots, demonstration of engine improvements to tackle methane slip, and optimization of pneumatic pumps via component retrofits.
BC Oil & Gas Methane Emissions Research Collaborative (MERC)
Created in 2020, MERC is a joint initiative between industry, the British Columbia government and environmental non-governmental organizations to advance research on methane emissions from oil and natural gas activity. The initiative’s goals include broadening scientific understanding of methane emissions sources, detection and measurement methods, and identifying emissions reduction and control technologies that can be implemented by operators.
Since its inception, MERC has implemented a collaborative research plan to improve understanding of fugitive emissions (both site-level emissions and potential impacts on emissions inventories) and LDAR program design, including the use of alternative or emerging technologies. Initial projects focus on the following: methane venting from storage tanks and compressor seals; an assessment of fugitive emissions management comparing pre- and post- methane regulation enactment data; evaluation and comparison of alternative LDAR programs; and comparison of top-down and bottom-up emissions inventory quantification methodologies.
BC Oil and Gas Research and Innovation Society (BC OGRIS)
BC OGRIS focuses on addressing knowledge gaps to inform environmental, operational and health and safety policy, as well as industry practices related to oil and natural gas exploration and development in British Columbia. BC OGRIS manages industry-sponsored funding for independent peer-reviewed research that seeks to improve industry environmental performance.
It has supported several initiatives including:
- MERC fugitive emissions research projects
- the advancement of First Nations-led restoration projects on legacy petroleum and natural gas sites
- a multi-year Aboriginal Liaison Program that trains liaisons from Indigenous communities to monitor oil and natural gas-related impacts
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)
Ovintiv has established an Applied Research Chair in Energy, led by Dr. Paolo Mussone, who heads the Clean Technologies Team and is focused on multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder projects in the emerging circular economy. Dr. Mussone will also lead projects in the development and field validation of low-carbon emissions technologies for the remediation of hydrocarbon and salt-impacted sites.
A key focus area has been research into transforming natural resources and industrial by-products and residual materials into high–value chemicals.