Caution + Care = 99.9% Success Rate

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Water management is one of the things that companies who produce oil and gas have to do really well. At WPX, we work with care, train our employees and have invested millions of dollars in water treatment and recycling facilities.

Reporting spills is part of this process and our commitment to comply with state requirements. Today the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requires operators to report any spill involving one barrel (42 gallons) or more of fluid.

In 2014, WPX handled more than 19 million barrels (798 million gallons) of water, liquids and fluids in our local drilling and production operations in the Piceance Basin. For some context, that’s enough liquid to fill more than 1,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

So how’d we do? Of that amount, we kept 99.983 percent of the water and fluids “in the swimming pool” so to speak, or more precisely, where that water was supposed to be – in pipes, tanks, equipment, trucks, etc.

The amount we spilled – 0.017 percent – was less than one quarter of one percent. We documented each of these occurrences – 85 reported in all totaling 3,400 barrels – according to requirements.

About a quarter of the spills occurred in areas where we had lined containment. Additionally, 90 percent of the 3,400 barrels stayed on drilling pads where we ultimately recovered about 87 percent of the spilled  volumes.

99.9 is a strong success rate, but we’re committed to constant improvement. Spill prevention is where we and our contractors can make the biggest, most beneficial impact.

How to Draw A Crowd in Parachute

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There’s a typically quiet room in the back of our Parachute office that transforms into a bustling activity center like clockwork.

It’s the monthly safety meeting, a standing-room-only event where about 200 people gather to discuss a critical aspect of our work at WPX: job safety.

To adhere to regulatory compliance and to keep certification up to date, safety meetings are required so employees can discuss operations in the field, as well as safety practices that can save lives and prevent accidents.

At a recent meeting, for example, leaders of the safety meetings gave a presentation about the company’s Emergency Response Plan.

“Every month we choose a different topic so we can train everyone as a group,” says Kevin McDermott,  safety supervisor in Parachute.

“We pack em’ in. These are the days when our parking lot is filled with trucks of those who typically spend their days checking our natural gas wells, McDermott says.

WPX takes safety seriously. In 2013, our employees in the Piceance Basin worked a total of 516,299 hours and drove 5.5 million miles without a lost-time accident, or LTA. An LTA is a specific reportable incident that employs standards and criteria set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In 2012, our Piceance employees worked 480,926 total hours, drove 5.3 million miles and had two LTAs.

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WPX Recognized for Reducing Emissions

Jeff Cutler

WPX Energy was recognized this week by the state for its commitment to reducing emissions and helping protect air quality.

One of the rigs WPX uses for drilling in the state’s Piceance Basin in western Colorado runs entirely on natural gas. WPX deployed the new rig last year.

“Using natural gas as a fuel source is better for the environment and helps reduce costs,” said Jeff Cutler, Piceance Basin drilling manager. “Compared to diesel fuel, there’s a 24 percent reduction in overall total emissions and an 80 percent reduction of ozone compounds.”

During initial operations in 2013, the rig saved WPX Energy more than $7,000 in daily fuel costs, and reduced fuel consumption by 85 percent. With less fuel required, truck traffic was also reduced — resulting in less dust, noise and impact to roadways, which benefits neighbors and the local community.

WPX supplies natural gas to the new rig from its existing well pads, where production already occurs.   The company has developed more than 4,400 natural gas wells in western Colorado over the years. “Using existing well pads provides a direct fuel source, reduces additional surface disturbance, and takes advantage of the pipelines and infrastructure that are already in place,” said Cutler.

The rig is also capable of moving between multiple wells on a single pad without being disassembled. The rig has four natural gas engines that provide the required horsepower needed to drill both vertical and horizontal well depths between 8,000 to 15,000 feet.

Successfully using the natural gas rig has led WPX to convert six other rigs in Western Colorado to dual-fuel engines that use a combination of both natural gas and diesel.

This is the 16th honor WPX has received from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The agency also has recognized WPX for water management, water recycling, water quality protection, green completions, use of new technology, reclamation and best practices.

Over the past decade, WPX has invested more than $7.5 billion to develop its holdings in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin. WPX plans to spend $475 million to $495 million in Colorado in 2014.

Water Recycling

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In the Piceance Basin, WPX recycles nearly 100 percent of our water. Typically in this industry, much of water hauling is done by trucks. Instead, we built our own state-of-the-art water management systems in Parachute and Rulison, Colo.

Why does WPX make the extra effort?

It’s not only less expensive for us to recycle the water and reuse it in our Colorado operations, but it also reduces truck traffic and noise significantly — we’ve already eliminated some 90,000 truck loads.

That results in less wear and tear on the roads, and it’s more environmentally friendly to continue to use the same water, especially in drought years. It make sense — by recycling and reusing our produced water, we don’t have to use as much fresh water.