Our commitment to safeguarding the environment is central to our company and embedded in the Hess Values. With oversight from our Board of Directors and executive leadership, we strive to continuously address risks across a range of environmental resources and improve our performance. This work is rooted in the Hess Operational Management System, which guides our day-to-day efforts, and we dedicate significant staff and resources to help ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations, international standards and voluntary commitments. At both the enterprise and the asset level, we have developed specific goals and targets to drive and track improvements in our environmental performance – some of which are integrated into our annual incentive plan.
Summaries of our water management and spill prevention programs and related key performance follow. For a detailed disclosure of our management of water, biodiversity, waste and air emissions, in addition to an overview of our spill prevention program, lifecycle approach to well integrity, and regulatory compliance and legal proceedings, please refer to our 2022 Sustainability Report. Leak Detection and Repair and Shale Energy, described online, contain content supplementary to our 2022 Sustainability Report.
Responsible water management is a primary focus of environmental efforts at Hess and continues to be one of our key sustainability issues. The communities and ecosystems where we operate depend on water to thrive, and we know that our operations have the potential to impact this essential resource. These possible impacts would primarily be through our use of fresh water, but impacts to water quality could also occur due to well integrity issues, spills or discharges. We continue to employ a risk based, lifecycle approach to managing water use through which we carefully assess and work to mitigate any potential impacts on water resources in both our onshore and our offshore operations.
Our freshwater use predominantly occurs in our onshore upstream operations during drilling and completions activities and in cooling in midstream gas processing. We also use fresh water in our offshore operations for some drilling activities and to supply potable water to personnel, though we primarily meet these needs by converting seawater to fresh water through reverse osmosis.
Hess’ total freshwater use in 2022 increased by 33% compared with 2021, which is primarily attributed to a 37% increase in freshwater use in our onshore drilling and completions operations in the Bakken.
The prevention of releases is one of Hess’ key sustainability issues. We maintain spill preparedness and response plans and conduct emergency response exercises at each of our assets. To support a swift and effective response to any loss of primary containment event, we maintain strong relationships with mutual aid and emergency response organizations at the local, regional and global levels.
We carried out a range of programs focused on spill prevention in 2022. To address spills that result from corrosion and integrity issues, we further refined our inspection and surveillance programs. We also renewed mitigation efforts to protect pipeline equipment from residual fracturing proppants that can impact reliability and integrity. In addition, we continued to enhance the range of key performance indicators that we use to track performance.
Our commitment to environmental release prevention was challenged in 2022 with a hydrocarbon release at a Hess site and a produced water release at a Hess Midstream underground pipeline, both in North Dakota. The leaks were isolated and impacted areas remediated. We also accelerated implementation of advanced release detection technology that significantly enhances our release detection capabilities.
Leak Detection and Repair
Hess employs a leak detection and repair (LDAR) program in North Dakota. The LDAR program covers fugitive emissions components at the facilities there. Our LDAR field assurance team conducts audio, visual and olfactory (AVO) inspections and optical gas imaging (OGI) on equipment that has the potential to emit fugitive emissions.
AVO inspections involve making observations (e.g., of fluids dripping, spraying, misting or clouding from or around components), listening for sounds (e.g., hissing) and noting smells (because Hess equipment is typically in mixed hydrocarbon service, so volatile organic compounds are typically present when leaks are identified). During scheduled monthly AVO inspections, and as part of their daily work, reliability operators monitor equipment for leaks and document the results. We require reliability operators to be trained and experienced in the appropriate operation of the equipment involved in their work activities and to be familiar with Hess operations in the areas where they work. They are also required to complete training on the Hess standard work documents for equipment subject to AVO inspection.
In North Dakota, OGI is conducted semiannually by trained operational personnel at our production operations who are certified in the use of infrared thermal cameras and other monitoring techniques in and quarterly at our compressor stations. Hess currently uses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Method 21 for leak detection compliance at the Tioga Gas Plant.
If a leak is found during inspection, we have a “first attempt” deadline of five days for repair. If a repair within five days is not feasible, the leak is documented and a fix is required within 30 days.
In 2022, we repaired 1,168 fugitive emissions components in North Dakota. This avoided 13,100 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions based on the EPA standard leak rates. A 22% reduction in overall leak components was observed compared with 2021. In addition, 61% of leaks were repaired on the day they were detected. These measures, together with the steps we are taking to reduce flaring, will help to further reduce our fugitive emissions in North Dakota.