Environment

Encana’s business practices minimize operational impacts to air, water and land. Our environmental programs allow us to effectively manage air emissions, prevent and respond to spills, minimize habitat disturbance and protect water across diverse ecosystems and regulatory jurisdictions. We operate under rigorous regulatory frameworks and ensure we remain compliant as they become more stringent across our business.

  • Water

    Water management requires consideration of resource uses, stakeholder engagement, regulations and operational needs. Continual planning and adaptation, coupled with new technologies, is key to successful water management. Every operating area has a strategic water management plan that is tied to the five-year development plan. We work in compliance with regulatory regimes, which encourage responsible water use. Encana goes to great lengths to manage water resources efficiently by implementing technologies and processes to improve our water management practices. Water management entails analysis of water volume needs, timing, well location, source water alternatives, costs, seasonality and the environment.

    Sourcing: Water source selection for energy development is highly complex and decision-making factors include: distance to the source, storage, access, chemistry, proximity to residents, volumes, availability/timing, environmental factors and cost. Each of Encana’s operational areas has a tailored approach depending on location and stage of development. Typical water sources include rivers, lakes, dugouts, shallow and deep groundwater wells, treated wastewater, recycled and produced water. Potential alternative water resources are continually assessed on a regular basis for their quality, quantity and associated costs.

    Transport: Trucks and pipelines are used to transport water from water resource hubs, supplemental water sources and water storage reservoirs to well pads. Encana uses both underground and surface pipelines to move water efficiently and safely across our lands. Utilizing a pipeline strategy to transport water has greatly reduced water hauling truck traffic, which has, in turn, eliminated tens of thousands of trucks from local roads, thereby reducing emissions, dust, noise and other above ground impact.

    Disposal: Following hydraulic fracturing operations, fluids that return to the surface are referred to as flowback. In addition to the original hydraulic fracturing fluids used, flowback can also contain water which was once housed in the rock formation. Water that is produced from the rock formation after the producing well is put on production is called produced water. Typically, produced water has a high salt content and is not suitable for domestic or livestock use. Where we are unable to reuse these fluids, we dispose of them responsibly to avoid the contamination of freshwater resources or land. Unusable and/or excess flowback water is transported and disposed of in licensed oil field disposal wells through a process called deep-well injection. Regular inspections and tests are conducted on disposal wells throughout the life of the well to ensure mechanical integrity and containment.

    Water highlights


    Montney: The Farmington and Tower Water Resource Hubs are deep saline groundwater facilities that have been designed and constructed in northeastern British Columbia (BC) to recycle flowback and produced water. In 2017, these alternate sources accounted for over 65 percent of Encana’s water use in BC.

    Permian: We increased the percentage of recycled water used from four percent in 2016 to 16 percent in 2017, thus reducing our reliance on freshwater in all three counties in which we operate.

    Eagle Ford: Approximately 50 percent of the water we used in 2017 was from alternative sources.

    Total water use increased in 2017 due to an increase in completions activity and the amount of water used per stage of completion.

  • Climate change and energy

    Our world is striving to understand and balance the impacts of climate change with the critical need for affordable, reliable energy. We are committed to minimizing the impact of our operations as we deliver the energy that contributes to society’s health, quality of life and prosperity. Meeting growing energy needs while addressing greenhouse gas emissions is a complex challenge. Encana is focused on improving greenhouse gas emissions performance. Government policies define our goals, but we maintain flexibility so that industry can develop effective and efficient solutions.

    Climate change positions, policies and principles

    Climate change is a global concern. Encana is committed to engaging with our stakeholders, including governments and the public, in addressing concerns related to climate change. Encana is working with industry partners to inform regulatory development while participating in voluntary programs, such as the Environmental Partnership, which is aimed at reducing emissions, sharing industry best practices and tracking emerging technologies. 

    For regulations to effectively reduce emissions without destroying value, we believe the following principles should guide the development of climate change policy:

    • Balance: Policy should deliver economic growth, environmental protection, a secure and reliable energy supply and should be harmonized across jurisdictions, to the extent that is practical.
    • Competitiveness: Policy should maintain competitiveness among the energy-intensive trade-exposed (EITE) industries, ensure compatibility with major trading and economic partners and support long-term capital investments in the upstream oil and gas sector.
    • Efficiency: Policy should define success through emission reduction objectives while maintaining the emitters’ maximum technical and economic flexibility to achieve those objectives.
    • Technology: Policy should encourage technologies to reduce emissions without dictating solutions.
  • Implications of shifting energy supply/demand

    Encana produces the oil and gas the world relies on. Our goal is to do so in a safe, ethical and socially responsible way while minimizing our environmental impact. These considerations are integral to our strategy and are embedded throughout our planning, decision-making and operational processes.

    Natural gas is a big part of the solution. Booming North American natural gas production has encouraged greater use for electric power generation, resulting in dramatically lower GHG emissions. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. has reduced energy-related carbon emissions 14 percent since 2005. Increased exports of natural gas through liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals will create emission reduction opportunities around the globe. One key learning from the recent past is that technology can change the energy landscape in unpredictable and beneficial ways. The current trend toward new technology allowing use of oil and gas in lower-emitting ways will continue in the future as innovations continue to improve how we convert energy into useful work.

    Energy is the foundation of modern life. The growing demand for energy will require the continued development of oil and gas resources. With increasing oil and gas production, energy companies are focused on limiting emissions with innovative solutions and technology and improving efficiencies. As the global population rises, so too does demand for energy. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), fossil fuels (particularly oil and natural gas) will continue to be the bedrock of the global energy system for decades to come.

  • Emissions management

    Electrification of upstream natural gas facilities: Striving to innovate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our daily operations, Encana has electrified the three largest gas processing facilities in BC through the use of hydro-generated power. This shift reduces Co2 emissions by 860,000 tonnes per year.

    Clean Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program (CIRCP): The CIRCP is a royalty program that enables the deployment of clean technologies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing upstream natural gas and petroleum development and helps advance British Columbia’s position as a leader in clean technology and responsible development.

    Encana participated in this pilot program because it is an opportunity to implement early action methane emission reductions at older sites where retrofitting would not be economically viable on its own. Encana’s extensive clean technology retrofit program is currently underway at sites across the Peace River Regional District in northeast British Columbia.

    By identifying and understanding fugitive methane emission sources, we can implement fit-for-purpose technologies that improve our operational performance and reduce emissions. We are focusing on ways to reduce air emissions, decrease flaring and improve energy efficiency. As part of this effort, Encana is a founding member of the Environmental Partnership, a voluntary US initiative for oil and gas companies to reduce GHG emissions.

    “The CIRCP partnership helped Encana to balance economic considerations with a desire to reduce emissions. Our clean technology retrofit program is a scalable operation where we plan to swap out many gas pneumatic controllers and pumps across a couple hundred well sites and implement instrument air control systems at older facilities to reduce methane emissions.”

    Dean Jenkins, Manager, Government Relations

    Venting, flaring, and fugitive emissions

    • Vapor recovery units (overhead compressors) are used to capture routine, low-pressure emissions, reducing total atmospheric emissions at applicable facilities.
    • Inline testing reduces flaring during completion operations in Alberta (AB) and British Columbia (BC).
    • Pressurized bullet tanks capture light-end hydrocarbons to reduce flared emissions.
    • Venting of GHG emissions is reduced through:
      • pneumatic controller high-bleed to lower-bleed conversions
      • solar or electric pumps in AB, BC and some areas of the US
      • a directed inspection and maintenance program
      • instrument air driven pneumatic devices at facilities in AB and BC

    Leak detection, measurement and emission reduction

    • In the US, Encana performs infrared camera inspections to identify and quickly repair any leaks within the prescribed timeframes required by the Environmental Partnership or state/federal regulations. We respond quickly to ensure leaks are fixed quickly and properly maintained.
    • In Canada, we collaborated with the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission and industry partners to establish a northeast British Columbia air monitoring program.
    • The company increased its use of natural gas to replace or reduce diesel use in drilling rigs in AB and BC.
    • The use of electric-powered equipment at facilities was optimized:
      • Since 2009, we have expanded electrification to all our major facilities across our BC Montney operating area. In 2017, we drew ~150 megawatts of power from hydroelectricity to supply our central facilities.

    GHG regulations

    Encana meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) GHG regulatory requirements in the US. In Canada, the oil and gas sector will be subject to new regulations that are designed to ensure that the sector’s methane emissions are reduced by 40 – 45 percent by 2025, relative to 2012 emissions. We have a plan in place to ensure that we will achieve compliance with the new regulations when they come into force. Encana actively participates with trade organizations to provide input to regulatory agencies on the development and implementation of GHG regulations. We also work with industry partners and government agencies to align best practices for emission reduction strategies and coordinated regulatory responses.

    Research and development

    • Encana works directly with Baker Hughes and mAIRsure to advance alternative leak detection methods by providing access to operational sites for field trials and data collection and advisement on application. Examples of this include the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, truck mounted and stationary methane sensors.
    • In the US, we utilize drones equipped with infrared cameras to monitor facilities and pipelines for potential methane leaks.
    • Encana supports new technology developers through participation in various studies.
    • We participated in a Colorado State University study funded by the EPA to research the efficacy of infrared cameras. This research will set a baseline that new technologies can be compared against for future approval and use to meet leak detection and repair (LDAR) regulatory requirements.
  • Responsible products for hydraulic fracturing

    Our Responsible Products Program is a risk-based product assessment and management program that helps ensure the hydraulic fracturing fluid products we use in our operations are as safe, effective and as environmentally responsible as possible. All the hydraulic fracturing fluid products we use are carefully assessed for their potential impact to human health or the environment using generally accepted toxicological criteria. After we have assessed a specific product, we are then able to decide as to whether that product can be used in our operations. Encana prohibits the use of hydraulic fracturing fluid products containing diesel fuels and heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury, 2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE) or benzene.

  • Spills prevention and management

    Preventing spills is essential to minimizing environmental impact, ensuring a safe workplace and reducing costs. Effective spill management requires routine maintenance, situational preparedness and continuous improvement in every phase of our operations. Our Spill Prevention Principles focus our efforts on four areas: transferring fluid, following operational procedures, ensuring equipment integrity and considering spill prevention in our site design. We use these four focus areas to promote tangible, field-based practices that are incorporated into our operations and work sites to prevent spills from occurring. In 2017, we saw a 16 percent reduction in regulatory spills from 2016 across all assets and 86 percent of all reportable spills remained onsite or within secondary containment.


  • Land management

    Our land management practices enable responsible use and development of land resources. We include life cycle analysis, planning and mitigation assessments from the initial site and risk analysis through the abandonment and reclamation stages. For many of our assets, detailed pre-planning sessions occur with a broad range of internal experts including biologists, hydrogeologists, hydrologists and development engineers to ensure that any potential environmental risks to wildlife, water and land resources are identified.

    Our land management programs are comprehensive and ensure that environmental risks are effectively identified and managed and include mandatory programs that minimize, reclaim or remediate impacts to land throughout the life of the asset.

  • Wildlife and habitat

    “We must be mindful that our activities can occur on landscapes that provide an important habitat for a variety of creatures. Minimizing our impact on wildlife and habitat is not only regulated by law, but is an important consideration as we strive to conduct our business responsibly,”

    Mark Phinney, Senior Environmental Advisor

    We actively manage our development schedules and operational footprint to account for a wide range of wildlife and habitat concerns, including sensitive areas and seasonality. To identify site-specific wildlife and habitat risks and minimize disturbance, we conduct environmental and wildlife assessments during the project planning and construction phases.

    Encana surveyors were inspecting a lease site in the Farmington area when they found a ground nest which held a clutch of eggs. The workers stopped construction and contacted Mark Phinney, who investigated and confirmed the nest belonged to a pair of short-eared owls. The short-eared owl is a Species of Special Concern in Canada. A wildlife camera was set up to monitor the nesting site without disrupting the owls. Construction of the lease pad was delayed, allowing the owls to raise their baby owls. Encana informed other oil and gas companies working in the area about the owls to reduce the potential for disturbance from other sources.

  • Waste

    Effective waste management enables Encana to minimize impacts to the environment. Our waste management practices ensure that waste generated by our activities is appropriately classified for proper handling, storage, transportation, tracking and disposal in accordance with regulatory requirements. This includes minimizing, recovering, recycling and reusing materials and tracking the associated data to focus on future waste reduction efforts.

  • Induced seismicity

    The occurrence of induced seismicity in relation to oil and gas activity, either by hydraulic fracturing or wastewater disposal, is very low and limited to a few specific areas. Encana has operating procedures to help manage the occurrence and magnitude of induced seismicity to levels that minimize any associated or perceived risks.

    Encana supports research efforts in conjunction with regulators that helps inform the understanding and management of induced seismicity events. We have also taken steps to manage and mitigate any potential negative impacts. We have aligned ourselves with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) hydraulic fracturing operating practice as well as American Exploration & Production Council and American Petroleum Institute efforts to reduce induced seismicity risks. Encana continues to work with regulatory agencies and monitor studies that address seismicity.

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS)  and Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) provide additional insight into current research and metrics regarding Induced Seismicity.

    Encana seismicity mitigation plan

    Planning and design: As an integral step to the process of planning and designing disposal or producing wells that require hydraulic fracturing, identify and consider all possible faults, geohazards and basement intervals that could increase the risk of seismicity.

    Risk management: With respect to the identified geohazards relative to well design, assess the risk of induced or triggered seismicity. Consider local, background and documented seismic activity in the area.

    Regulatory compliance: Operate water disposal wells in compliance with all rules regulating injection rates, volumes, surface pressures and frac gradients.

    Monitor well operations: For both water disposal and hydraulic fracturing operations, monitor well conditions, including injection rates, pressures and cumulative volumes. Utilizig the Traffic Light approach, any detected or felt induced or triggered seismicity is grounds for Stop Work. Where appropriate, utilize available seismic or micro-seismic monitoring equipment which may include resources from US Geological Survey or National Resources Canada.

    Third-party facilities: Audit, inspect and/or confirm third-party disposal facilities using industry, trade or direct audit mechanisms to ensure those facilities have managed all risks relative to induced seismicity consistent with this mitigation plan.

ECA stock price

TSX $11.09 Can -0.04

NYSE $8.39 USD -0.02

As of 2018-11-13T12:38:00. Minimum 15 minute delay