To limit risk and liability in the handling and disposal of waste, Whiting has developed an effective waste management program. A corporate Waste Management and Minimization Plan is in place for all operational areas, providing guidance to Whiting personnel on the proper handling, management and disposal of waste. We ensure that waste generated at all our locations is properly disposed of or treated. We audit third-party waste facilities, such as landfills and saltwater disposals, to verify they are appropriately licensed and permitted and meet Whiting standards. Whiting’s waste management program is always evolving, as areas/topics, such as waste tracking, are identified which provide opportunities for improvement.
WASTE MANAGEMENT AND WASTE MINIMIZATION
Whiting has developed a corporate Waste Management and Minimization Plan, to assist personnel with the storage, labeling, and disposal requirements for wastes generated during operational activities. Additionally, Whiting provides employees with waste awareness training, to help in the identification, classification and proper handling of waste streams. These two programs aid in reducing the risk and liability associated with the handling and disposal of waste.
A Waste Disposal Management Policy, which promotes environmentally sound work practices and reduces the liability and environmental risk associated with waste disposal and treatment, has been adopted at Whiting. Waste generated at all Whiting facilities must be properly disposed of, or treated, at appropriately licensed and permitted facilities that meet Whiting standards, as identified through the Whiting Audit Program.
Whiting utilizes waste minimization to promote environmental stewardship, improve efficiency, and reduce operating costs, regulatory compliance concerns, and future liability. Waste minimization is any activity resulting in the reduction of the quantity, or potential impact to the environment, of a waste. Most importantly, waste minimization is simply the sustainable, environmentally conscientious and responsible approach to handling our generated wastes.
The waste minimization program is intended to not only encourage, but to help implement successful waste minimization techniques and plans, by assisting in finding source reduction and recycling options for all generated wastes. Source reduction and recycling conserve our natural resources and energy, save landfill space, and reduce pollution. Together, reducing, reusing, and recycling makes up a comprehensive waste and resource reduction strategy that benefits our environment, communities, and economy.
WASTE FACILITY AUDIT PROGRAM
Whiting has implemented a Waste Facility Audit Program, to ensure the third-party waste disposal and treatment facilities that we utilize meet our standards. We perform independent audits, evaluating a facility’s operating standards and compliance history, compared to the following standards:
- Compliance with applicable state and federal permits, laws and regulations
- Implementation of Environmental, Health and Safety programs
- Possession of adequate liability insurance
- Maintenance of sound facility structural integrity
- Responsible operation and recordkeeping
- Adequate overall housekeeping
We believe this added precaution ensures all waste generated from drilling, completion and operational activities are disposed/treated responsibly, ultimately minimizing the potential liability and environmental risk associated with waste disposal and treatment.
Whiting’s drilling operations utilize drilling fluids that are consistent with standard industry practice, which minimize environmental impacts and optimize well control. When possible, we employ water-based drilling mud systems, which utilize biodegradable vegetable oils. Drilling fluids from these water-based mud system operations are separated from the drill cuttings for reuse in the drilling process.
Whiting is committed to responsible drilling residuals management and reduction. 100 percent of our drilling rigs utilize a closed loop system, which eliminates the need for open pits to store drilling residuals. All waste generated from drilling activities is disposed/treated at facilities that are compliant with applicable laws, regulations, and Whiting standards.
Where possible, drill cuttings are treated on location, in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. This on-location treatment eliminates the need to dispose of drill cuttings in landfills, reducing our environmental impact and eliminating air emissions associated with truck hauling to landfills.
NATURALLY OCCURING RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS (NORM) MANAGEMENT
During oil and gas production operations, naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) may be brought to the surface with produced fluids where, over time, they can accumulate in surface and subsurface equipment. Whiting is committed to responsibly managing the hazards and risks associated with NORM. We retain a Certified Industrial Hygienist and Radiation Safety Officer that supports all NORM-related activities involving risk of exposure to employees and contractors, including characterizing NORM exposure risks and identifying health and safety controls to reduce the potential for NORM exposure. Whiting also provides employees with NORM awareness and NORM surveyor training classes.
To identify and manage NORM hazards, Whiting conducts initial and follow-up NORM assessments of our facilities. These NORM surveys, performed by trained personnel, are conducted on active production equipment and on inactive equipment/piping slated for sale or disposal. Each Whiting production office maintains calibrated radiation detection equipment used for NORM surveys. When NORM is identified at a Whiting location, we ensure that adequate worker protection is provided by first focusing on applying engineering controls and preventive maintenance, followed by applying administrative controls and personal protective equipment. Whiting also ensures the environmental risks associated with NORM are minimized by safely handling, storing, transporting and disposing/treating NORM impacted materials.
Whiting’s recycling program continues to grow company-wide. Our corporate office has an established recycling program, and our field operations contract with local vendors to recycle scrap metal. Whiting personnel continually look for available equipment or parts for reuse. These practices all add up to reduce the volume of waste being sent to local landfills.
Whiting has established universal waste recycling programs for fluorescent light bulbs, batteries and electronic waste, at the Denver corporate office and our field office locations. Recycling these waste streams protects the environment, by limiting their disposal in landfills.
SPILL PREVENTION AND RESPONSE
Whiting has developed a robust Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan Program that provides personnel with the tools necessary to efficiently and effectively prevent releases and respond to them if they occur. Strategically located spill response trailers throughout our drilling and production areas offer quick response times to Whiting assets. Peer benchmarking studies show that Whiting is consistently below the industry average for spills.
Whiting also prepares for potential incidents through rigorous emergency response training and an effective Incident Command System. In addition, several individual programs exist to review and update all emergency response plans and processes as necessary.
Whiting is also one of the original members of the Sakakawea Area Spill Response, LLC (SASR), which is a company composed of 17 oil, gas and pipeline operators in the upper Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea region of North Dakota. SASR members have agreed to share resources by collectively purchasing and maintaining equipment to facilitate a quick and comprehensive response to an open water spill. The goal is to minimize impacts to the area and protect local residents and the environment.