SM Energy complies with air quality standards issued by each regulatory body with jurisdiction over our operating areas. These standards include EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to regulate air emissions from oil and gas sources. SM Energy utilizes a variety of technologies to help ensure that we meet the regulatory requirements. In 2016, SM Energy’s total CO2 equivalent GHG emissions reported to the EPA, in accordance with EPA’s reporting requirements, were approximately 358 thousand metric tons.
SM Energy understands the importance of respecting the land where we operate. We work with our landowners, neighbors and local community leaders before we begin any operation to ensure the proper planning of well site locations, service roads and pipeline routes. We are thoughtful about where we build our facilities and how we run our operations. Where possible, we utilize multi-well pads to help minimize the footprint of our operations.
We know the best way to minimize any impact from spills is to take steps to prevent spills from occurring in the first place. We design and maintain our facilities to prevent spills and in the event of a spill, contain all fluids on location. SM Energy has developed and maintains Emergency Response Plans to allow for safe and efficient response to various types of emergency scenarios if ever needed. SM Energy performs drills annually, with local first responders when available, to test the effectiveness of the plans.
We appreciate and respect that the people who entrust us to operate on their land are some of our most important stakeholders. We work hard each and every day to earn their trust and foster long-standing partnerships with all of our landowners. To achieve this goal, we are committed to operating in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, and invest in the communities where we live, work and operate. We also believe that a successful partnership must be based upon mutual respect, trust and frequent open and honest communications.
Protecting the environment also means protecting and conserving natural resources such as water. SM Energy actively takes steps to identify and utilize new technologies to help us use water resources wisely, recycle water where reasonable, and minimize the amount of water needed for our operations. Any water that we use in conjunction with our drilling and completions operations is regulated by state and federal agencies.
We design our operations and facilities in a stringent manner to protect groundwater, and as a result, we meet and often exceed the requirements established by regulatory agencies. Drinking water aquifers (permeable rock containing groundwater) are generally shallow beneath the earth’s surface. The oil and gas bearing rock formations that we target for production are located between 4,000 and 14,000 feet below the surface. Production areas are often separated from drinking groundwater by a mile or more of solid, impermeable rock.
SM Energy has developed a water sampling program that tests water from nearby water sources prior to beginning operations in a new area. Qualified third party consultants collect water samples, and then accredited third party laboratories perform baseline evaluations.
In order to protect groundwater sources from our oil, gas and water production, multiple heavy steel casings are typically inserted deep into the ground and fully cemented into the well bore before beginning any operations. The casings, cement and placement specifications, and cementing processes are governed by state regulations and well developed industry standards. The cement must meet certain strength and quality criteria and extend from the depth of the casing back to the surface. The steel casing protects aquifers from any material inside the well bore, and the cement provides an additional protective barrier.
SM Energy separates produced and flow back water from hydrocarbons and temporarily stores water in above ground tanks. The tanks are located within secondary containment barriers onsite. The water is then either recycled or disposed of at a permitted disposal site. SM Energy does not send any produced or flow back water to municipal treatment facilities.