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Air Quality Best Practices

Best Practices and Specific Actions
Range is committed to ensuring compliance and meeting its voluntary commitments to limit and manage emissions. Through engineering and implementation of best practices, Range manages and limits emissions while enhancing overall production. For example, Range conducts emission inventories and regular field inspections. Annually, Range reviews well site and compressor station designs to improve emissions controls by applying our core values of performance, integrity, innovation, and transparency. 

Drilling
Implementing controls to limit the combustion of fuels is a top priority. In Pennsylvania, Range operates a natural gas-powered drilling rig. Flaring is limited to situations where it is necessary for repair, maintenance, emergency or safety. Range reduces natural gas flaring and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions by capturing and enclosed burning flaring, when possible. Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology is sometimes used for reducing NOx emissions from drilling, provided the rig is capable of accommodating the control.

Flowback
Range complies with the EPA’s green completions standards.  A closed-loop system, constructed before permanent production facilities are installed, is utilized on new sites to capture emissions and virtually eliminate the need for flaring. Although Range has worked hard to greatly reduce flaring instances, it may be necessary for rare operational or safety purposes.  Range’s newly developed internal flaring policy requires Range staff to log and detail any flaring instances.  This data will be analyzed moving forward to identify any operational trends, improve safety and efficiencies, and to correct deficiencies. 

Temporary Water Transfer
Range maintains a robust water-recycling program that utilizes permanent and temporary water transfer pipelines which significantly reduces truck traffic. Additionally, when trucks are used during water transfer, Range requires reduced idling times at its locations. Trucks are tracked by satellite to ensure the most efficient and safe operations possible. 

Production
Range’s permanent shale production facilities are outfitted with emissions-reducing technologies. Range continuously evaluates its facilities through a leak detection and repair program used to find new and innovative methods for emissions management.

For the Marcellus Shale Play, Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) surveys are detailed in the Compliance Demonstration Reporting (CDR) submissions to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental.

All of Range’s well sites that were completed after September 18, 2015 are required to have an LDAR survey under the Federal New Source Performance Standards. For sites with new wells, LDAR surveys are conducted within 60 days of being turned on and semiannual follow-up surveys are performed thereafter. Range currently operates more than 100 sites with LDAR surveys.

In accordance with Federal New Source Performance Standards, an attempt is made to repair any leaks during the LDAR inspection. Leaks that are not able to be repaired during the inspection must be repaired within 30 days of the inspection, unless exempt. Additionally, in Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection’s standards require that leaks be repaired within 15 days of detection, unless ordering of parts or a facility shutdown is required to repair the leak.

Facility components are carefully selected and tested by Range’s engineering team to minimize potential leaks. Facilities are assembled using internally developed standard operating procedures based on nationally accredited industry standards. The facilities are then tested for leaks before commissioning.  Once operation begins, facilities are tested with an optical gas imaging (OGI) camera within the first 60 days and then every 6 months through the life-cycle of the well.  If a leak is found in Pennsylvania, where the majority of Range’s operations take place, state regulations require it to be fixed within 15 days, otherwise an extension permit must be filed while material is ordered. 

By maintaining thorough records of the OGI program, Range’s engineering team has been able to determine which components were most likely to leak. Analyzing that data and identifying trends has allowed Range to make strides in reducing leaks even further by selecting alternative components and altering processes based on quantitative information. The effectiveness of the operations, maintenance, and engineering teams have yielded a substantial reduction in identified leaks with this targeted approach.

In order to assure consistency, Range employees conduct all leak detection surveys for the company. All employees conducting leak detection surveys are required to receive Optical Gas Imaging training through the Infrared Training Center. If the training is not readily available, the employee may be trained in-house by a certified individual, but must receive the Infrared Training Center training when it becomes available.

Range annually reports the number of high bleed, intermittent, and low bleed controllers to the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2016, Range reported zero high-bleed controllers in both Pennsylvania and North Louisiana.

An optical gas imaging (OGI) camera is used to perform the LDAR surveys.

View Range's fact sheet here on best management practices for a typical Marcellus shale well. 

Range submits an annual Greenhouse Gas Report to the Environmental Protection Agency that includes details on its engines and fuel usage, as well as details on its production operations practices.

Additionally, methods of emission reduction are included in the annual emission report to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (the PADEP) for the Marcellus Shale Play. For drilling operations, there is a control selection field in the Pennsylvania state oil and gas reporting electronic (OGRE) report. For each well pad that has been spud after August 10, 2013, a Compliance Demonstration Report (CDR) is submitted to the PADEP, detailing source emissions, emissions control, and methods of determining emissions rates within 180 days of the start of production.

Methane venting due to equipment blowdown and loading operations is virtually eliminated on oil producing locations by utilizing closed systems that send vented gas to emissions control devices (enclosed burners or vapor recovery compressors).  Although this is not a regulatory requirement, Range utilizes this as a best management practice to prevent unnecessary emissions.  Specific practices and technologies utilized by Range include:

  • Using a plunger lift to “unload” wells to a closed system rather than venting to the atmosphere.  This greatly reduces emissions related to well unloading.  
  • When pneumatic devices are to be used at a site, engineering selection is based on vent rate; with only the lowest rate “low bleed” devices typically selected and deployed.  Whenever possible, electric devices are utilized in place of pneumatic devices to eliminate venting. 
  • For dry gas locations in the Marcellus, Range utilizes glycol dehydration systems designed to use vented gas as fuel. This reduces emissions and saves on fuel costs.
  • Range works directly with vendors in customizing equipment to minimize leaks and improve reliability.   An example of this is Range’s collaboration on industry-leading tank valves which seal with a higher level of effectiveness than competitor’s valves.