ONEOK’s operating commitment to environmental compliance sets the expectation that the company operates responsibly and employs best management practices that help mitigate the potential impacts of our operations on the environment. ONEOK’s environmental professionals provide analysis, guidance and training around environmental compliance and protection of sensitive resources to applicable stakeholders.

  • Recycling Information

    Sustainability Group Focuses On Environmental Innovation

    We believe companies that anticipate and manage current and future sustainable opportunities and risks by focusing on quality, innovation and productivity will emerge as industry leaders and are more likely to create a competitive advantage and long-term stakeholder value.

    In 2017, ONEOK created a sustainability group within the previously referenced corporate ESH organization to increase the focus on the challenges and opportunities our industry is facing regarding environmental sustainability. The group is establishing a proactive approach to promoting sustainable ESH practices and awareness into business planning and operational processes.

    Key strategies include:

    • Evaluating opportunities to improve conservation and recycling programs.
    • Identifying opportunities to reduce company greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
    • Increasing stakeholder outreach.
    • Documenting environmental achievements.
    • Further engaging employees in ONEOK’s ESH sustainability initiatives.

    In 2018, this group will be conducting an environmental and social materiality assessment to determine what is material to ONEOK’s operating processes and the potential environmental impacts.

    Agency Reportable Environmental Event Rate Metric

    ONEOK’s Agency Reportable Environmental Event Rate (AREER)1 is an internal environmental metric that influences the short-term incentive criteria for all ONEOK employees. AREER promotes a continued reduction of releases and emission events that are reportable to a state or federal agency. While there is not an industrywide metric for environmental measurement, we understandthat targets and incentives play an important role in improving our environmental performance.

    In 2017, ONEOK reported an AREER of 1.23. While the result did not meet our set target of 1.11, it represented an improvement of more than 5 percent compared with 2016. This is the third straight year that ONEOK employees’ hard work and dedication to environmental stewardship has resulted in a reduction in the number of reportable spills and emission events.

    We continue to set challenging but achievable targets to reduce the number of AREER events and our environmental impacts. We consistently look for ways to improve energy efficiency and manage our carbon emissions across our operating footprint, including implementing innovative technologies and undertaking projects to manage our operating emissions. Our 2018 target remains at 1.11.

    Carbon Disclosure Project

    In 2017, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) received climate disclosures from more than 1,000 companies worldwide. The CDP is an international organization that works with shareholders and corporations to disclose the carbon emissions of participating companies. ONEOK participated for the fifth consecutive year and ranked in the top 20 percent of companies in the U.S. and Canada energy sector. We voluntarily report to the CDP in an effort to provide additional transparency to our already robust environmental reporting platforms. We publicly document our response to climate change strategies through the CDP.

    Of the 108 U.S. companies included in the energy sector, 16 responded to at least one investor-led program in 2017, which includes climate change, water and forests. A company goes through four main steps in the scoring process starting with disclosure of its current position, moving to awareness, which looks at whether a company is conscious of its environmental impact, to management and lastly leadership.


    We are committed to protecting the environment during the construction and operation of our assets. Environmental surveys are completed for wetlands, streams, protected species and cultural resources before construction projects begin. Our environmental specialists consult with applicable environmental agencies and conduct extensive studies to identify environmental resources and implement measures to avoid or minimize impacts.

    Protection of Water Resources When Constructing Large Projects

    The assessment of potential environmental effects during a new pipeline project involves a three-tiered conservation approach: avoidance, minimization and mitigation.

    Geographic layout of the proposed pipeline route is selected by analyzing water resources in the beginning stage of the project.
    The environmental team reviews water resource data along the pipeline footprint and then identifies water crossings that may need to be avoided.

    When avoiding water resources is not possible, we reduce our footprint by narrowing the project right of way. In some cases, the impact may be further minimized by using different crossing methods such as tunneling or boring that do not disturb the stream bed or surface water.

    During construction, effects on water resources are mitigated in several ways. We maintain internal environmental guidelines for pipeline projects that hold contractors to high standards and best management practices during construction.

    Stream-crossing methods are planned and approved in advance to ensure that environmental controls are adequate for each water body. In active construction across stream banks, sediment barriers and storm water filtration devices are installed and maintained regularly to eliminate storm water runoff.

    Our environmental guidelines also provide timelines for stream bank stabilization and restoration in accordance with applicable regulations, which increase efficiency and reduce soil exposure time post construction.

    Additional environmental controls include restrictions on refueling equipment near water bodies. These restrictions require secondary containment and a 100-foot offset from surface water. Dewatering and hydrostatic discharge activities also follow environmental guidelines that ensure the discharges are released through filtration controls in vegetated upland areas to minimize impacts.

    Leak Detection

    ONEOK dedicates resources to the development and/or implementation of leak detection systems that can identify potential leaks in a timely manner and thereby reduce the impact if such an event occurs. Leak detection methods are broadly classified into two categories: external leak detection methods (i.e. aerial patrol and on-site inspection) and internal leak detection methods (i.e. pressure flow monitoring and computational pipeline monitoring). ONEOK currently has at least one form of leak detection device deployed on 100 percent of its NGL pipeline assets and has implemented computational pipeline monitoring (the most advanced form) on more than 65 percent of its NGL pipeline assets. ONEOK has a team dedicated to evaluating and implementing leak detection techniques on all NGL pipelines in ONEOK’s footprint.

    Williston Basin Flaring Analysis

    Significant drilling activity in recent years in the Williston Basin has caused natural gas production to exceed the capacity of existing natural gas gathering and processing infrastructure, which results in the flaring of natural gas by producers.

    ONEOK significantly increased its natural gas gathering and processing infrastructure over the past four years through the construction of additional processing plants, compression capacity and gathering pipelines. This increase in infrastructure has resulted in decreased flaring of natural gas in the Williston Basin from 35 percent in February 2014 to approximately 10 percent in December 2017, while production has increased over the same time period.

    We continue to work proactively with crude oil and natural gas producers in this area to forecast locations where infrastructure may support increased natural gas capture and reduce flaring. As production grows, these partnerships remain important to measurable reductions in flare percentages.

    ONEOK Continues to Improve Green Rankings

    ONEOK’s continued focus on environmental performance was recognized again in 2017 by environmental research organizations that monitor some of the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. and the world.

    Newsweek magazine’s Green Rankings list the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. (the U.S. 500) and the 500 largest publicly traded companies globally (the Global 500) on overall environmental performance, and is considered one of the world’s foremost corporate environmental rankings.

    In 2017, ONEOK was ranked third in the midstream energy sector.

    Newsweek works with several environmental research organizations to create the rankings, which aim to assess each company’s actual environmental footprint and management of that footprint, related policies and strategies and reputation among environmental experts.

    The Newsweek Green Rankings follow the core principles of transparency, objectivity, public data, comparability and engagement.

    Other environmental recognitions throughout our operating footprint include:

    • The southwest Kansas operations group was awarded the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s 2017 Pollution Prevention (P2) Award for an ongoing compressor station consolidation project. The P2 Award recognizes projects that eliminate or reduce the generation of pollutants or wastes at the source, or projects that conserve natural resources. This project reduced the following from ONEOK’s environmental footprint:
      »   Approximately 159.9 tons per year of nitrogen oxides.
      »   191.07 tons per year of carbon monoxide.
      »   12.4 tons per year of VOCs.
      »   0.1 ton per year of sulfur dioxide.
      »   3.2 tons per year of particulate matter.
      »   418 million cubic feet per day of fuels used in operations.
      »   110 hours per month of labor.
    • ONEOK was presented with the 2017 Environmental Federation of Oklahoma Frank Condon Environmental Excellence Award, which recognizes companies that have implemented innovative, voluntary and effective environmental programs.
    • Workgroups within our Natural Gas Pipelines and Natural Gas Liquids operations groups were selected as the ESH Operational Excellence Award winners in 2017. The awards are presented annually to internal operating workgroups that demonstrate exceptional ESH performance as measured by both leading and lagging indicators. The winners are chosen by the ESH Leadership Committee after receiving recommendations from the operating units’ leadership and ESH teams. Each of the award winners completed 2016 without incurring an employee recordable injury, a preventable vehicle incident or an agency reportable environmental event. The winners also differentiated themselves from other operating groups by completing numerous ESH initiatives.

  • Conservation Highlights


    Conway NGL Storage Facility Reduces Water Consumption

    There are financial and environmental costs associated with every gallon of water used. Initiatives to reduce water consumption in 2017 resulted in a 59 percent reduction in total water usage at the Conway Storage facility in Kansas. By increasing salinity levels of brine, the net change of water used at the facility was 8,116,300 fewer gallons of water in 2017 compared with 2016.

    • 2016 Water Usage: 13,807,100 gallons (metered).
    • 2017 Water Usage: 5,690,800 gallons (metered).
    Reduced Energy Consumption with LED Upgrades

    The Stateline natural gas processing facility in North Dakota replaced hundreds of fluorescent bulbs, accompanying ballasts and sodium lamps and accompanying ballasts with LED lighting. LED lighting upgrades have occurred at facilities in the Midwestern Gas Transmission system and Osage Storage. LED lighting is being evaluated in the design of new and upgraded facilities.

    Methane and GHG Reduction Technologies and Practices

    • Conway Storage facility reduces VOC emissions: The facility installed equipment in 2017 to begin capturing VOC emissions from gasoline-loading activities. This initiative resulted in significant VOC emission reductions: 75.64 tons fewer VOCs were emitted in 2017 compared with 2016.
    • North System pump stations install cyclone filters: Four cyclone filters were installed at the Winterset and Massena pump stations, replacing seal flush filters. This eliminates the hazardous waste stream at these facilities and reduces emissions that occurred during seal flush filter changes.
    • Blowdown volume management: Operations takes great strides to reduce the volume of product flared or blown down during all maintenance activities. One such reduction strategy includes the utilization of the liquid recovery pump at the Overland Pass Pipeline delivery station to reduce flared product to 1.5 barrels per filter change from 11 barrels, lowering emissions throughout the year. This activity alone reduces GHG emissions from blown down events by 95 percent.

    North Dakota’s ‘Planting for the Future’ Project

    ONEOK will be involved in planting approximately 20,000 of 55,000 trees planned for the state in 2018. This planting will allow us to fulfill a tree-planting obligation to the North Dakota Public Service Commission as part of the review and approval for the completion of the Bear Creek NGL Pipeline project while making an improvement to the available wooded habitat in North Dakota. Large-scale plantings of native tree species creates ecological wildlife habitat, which reduces erosion impacts and improves soil quality. In addition to these benefits, the replanting of trees will capture an estimated 464,000 pounds of carbon dioxide once mature.

    Launch of New Waste Application Module

    ONEOK’s companywide environmental management application launched its waste application module in 2017. The waste application improves visibility and repeatability in waste management, provides more efficient waste disposal scheduling processes and serves as the sole, consistent environmental application module companywide for waste management.

    Full implementation of the Enablon technology application, which includes air and water applications, is expected to be complete by the second quarter of 2020.

    Community Beautification and Improvements

    Employees contributed to environmental initiatives in various communities in 2017 through the beautification and improvement of various public-use areas and habitats, including:

    • Oklahoma
      »   Employees and family members participated in the 12th annual Lake Overholser and Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge Cleanup in Oklahoma City. Participants combed through wooded areas by foot and paddled kayaks along the banks of the Canadian River to collect refuse. This project collected 2 tons of refuse and recyclable materials from Lake Overholser and the surrounding area.
      »   Employees participated in two of Fairview Public Schools’ cleanup days, trimming at least 30 bushes and hedges at the middle school and high school and filling four 12-foot trailers with trash and trimmings.
    • Texas
      »   Employees volunteered for the Keep Midland Beautiful Adopt-A-Spot cleanup – ONEOK committed to a minimum of two cleanups per year as part of its 2016 adoption of a 1.2-mile area on the frontage road of a highly traveled loop in Midland, Texas.
      »   Employees volunteered for the semiannual Chamber County Adopt-A-Beach cleanup in Mont Belvieu.
    • Williston Basin
      »   Employees in Montana and North Dakota participated in four cleanup events: Sidney Cleanup in Montana, Dickinson Cleanup, Clean Williston and Watford City’s Pick Up the Patch in North Dakota.
    Follow-Me Printing Continues to Reduce Printing, Paper Use

    In 2016, Follow-Me Printing technology, a printing solution that allows users to retrieve print jobs from any printer on the corporate network using a ONEOK ID badge, was implemented at ONEOK Plaza to reduce expenses from duplicate devices and abandoned print jobs, among other benefits.

    In 2017, a 12 percent reduction in printing resulted in paper savings of 1,412 pounds and 170 trees saved.

    Working to Make a Difference Through Renewable Energy and Habitat Restoration

    Facilities Powered by Solar

    Currently more than 10,000 of our measurement facilities are utilizing solar power. As we continue to look for ways to improve energy efficiencies across our operations, we are exploring the technology’s benefits at a number of our newer, larger sites. Since many of our facilities are in remote locations, solar power is often a more reliable solution, and the cost of implementation continues to become more cost effective as well.


    We believe there is ample demand in the marketplace for a variety of energy sources, especially when they complement one another, as do natural gas and renewables like wind and solar. Additionally, ONEOK utilizes these renewables in a number of ways, including through the purchase of electricity, a percentage of which is wind-generated, and the implementation of solar technology at various facilities.

    Energy Management Program – Load Shedding

    In 2016, ONEOK created an internal Energy Management Program to provide dedicated resources to understanding our energy consumption, evaluating potential energy efficiencies and implementing new processes. Among various processes identified is load shedding, which consists of reducing our electric consumption at key times and locations while not impacting our ability to operate and service our customers.

    In 2017, we began implementing load-shedding techniques on a variety of our assets. Ultimately, the 14 hours of load shedding implemented over a few months resulted in approximately $1 million in savings. We expect this cost savings to increase as we continue exploring ways to expand this practice and other methods to improve energy efficiencies.

    Habitat Restoration

    We are committed to the full restoration of habitats that may be impacted during large capital construction projects, which includes determining the appropriate seed mixes and plant species in the area, as well as properly separating soil throughout construction. In 2017, we successfully restored the habitats of 2,545 acres where new pipelines were constructed. As we continue to execute on our capital-growth strategies, full restoration of right of way will remain a key focus.

  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    Greenhouse Gas Emissions2

    Based on 2017 GHG threshold levels, we reported emissions from 29 facilities totaling approximately 52.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e)3.

    Emissions at our facilities result from natural gas combustion from operating natural gas compressor engines and process heaters, plus methane and carbon dioxide that escape operating equipment, and venting and other processes common to natural gas systems. Reporting is required for facilities at or above the 25,000 metric tons of CO2e per year threshold set by the EPA.

    As a midstream service provider, ONEOK gathers, transports, processes and stores hydrocarbon products and delivers those products into the marketplace, which are ultimately delivered to consumers or end users.

    The above chart represents scope 1 and 3 emissions. The portions of scope 3 emissions reported would result from the complete combustion or oxidation of NGL products that ONEOK delivered to customers. These emissions are calculated using the annual volume of each fractionated product and multiplying it by an emission factor. Products covered under the rule are ethane, propane, butane, isobutane and natural gasoline. ONEOK’s 2017 total emissions supplied to customers were 49.6 million metric tons of CO2e.

    Facility-direct emissions, or scope 1 emissions, are those that result from operating our midstream assets in order to provide services to our customers. Such operations include: natural gas combustion from running compressor engines and process heaters, plus methane and carbon dioxide that escapes from operating equipment and venting and other processes common to natural gas systems. ONEOK’s 2017 total facility-direct emissions were 2.9 million metric tons of CO2e.

    The above chart represents the facility-direct emissions attributable to each of ONEOK’s business segments. Facility-direct emissions include emissions that result from the combustion of fuel and methane and emissions vented to the atmosphere. Emission sources that vent to the atmosphere include fugitive components (valves, connectors, open-ended lines, flanges, relief valves and meters), compressors, acid gas treatment systems, blowdown vent stacks, dehydrator vents and storage tanks. The main source of facility-direct GHG emissions is from the combustion of natural gas from running compressor engines and process heaters. ONEOK’s natural gas gathering and processing segment produces the most facility-direct emissions.

    Other emissions reported in 2017 include:

    • Criteria Air Emissions: As part of our commitment to environmental sustainability and transparency, below are emissions reporting data for nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx) and VOCs emissions for all facilities required to report air emission inventories. Note: 2017 data was not available at the time of this report.

  • ESH Metrics

    1 AREER is defined as the total number of releases and excess emission events that trigger a federal, state or local environmental reporting requirement (with some exceptions to account for events outside our control, planned maintenance and disparities in reporting requirements across our operations) per 200,000 work hours.
    2 ONEOK’s operations do not result in the emitting of ozone-depleting substances into the atmosphere.
    3 Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) is a metric used to compare the emissions from various GHGs based on their global-warming potential. It is determined by multiplying the metric tons of a specific GHG by its associated global-warming potential.
    4 Total number of work-related deaths and work-related injuries that result in one or more of the following: loss of consciousness, medically prescribed restriction of work or motion, transfer to another job, requirement of medical treatment beyond first-aid and away-from-work cases as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
    5 Total number of work-related illnesses (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome, hearing standard threshold shifts, chemical exposure, etc.) that result in one or more of the following: loss of consciousness, medically prescribed restriction of work or motion, transfer to another job, requirement of medical treatment beyond first-aid and away-from-work cases as defined by OSHA.
    6 Days away, restricted or transferred incidents (DART) – Total number of lost workday injuries and illnesses as defined by OSHA. A lost workday is one in which (1) the employee is prevented from returning to work, (2) the employee is assigned to another job on a temporary basis, (3) the employee works less than full time or (4) the employee is not able to perform all job duties.
    7 Total OSHA-recordable injuries and illnesses multiplied by 200,000 and divided by total employee work hours.
    8 A preventable incident is one in which the driver failed to do everything reasonable to avoid the incident and could include: backing, hitting a fixed object, running into a vehicle ahead, striking a pedestrian, misjudging available clearance, not driving at a speed consistent with the existing conditions of the road, weather, traffic or sight distance.
    9 Preventable Vehicle Incident Rate (PVIR) is the preventable vehicle incidents per 1 million miles driven.
    10 Near Miss is defined as an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness or damage, but had the potential to do so.
    11 Good Catch is defined as the observation, and ultimately the recording, of a potential event.
    12 An environmentally beneficial project undertaken voluntarily in exchange for mitigation of a portion of a penalty agreed to in settlement of issues of noncompliance or alleged noncompliance.
    13 Total number of releases and excess emission events that trigger a federal, state or local environmental reporting requirement.
    14 Agency Reportable Environmental Event Rate (AREER) is defined as the total number of releases and excess emission events that trigger a federal, state or local environmental-reporting requirement (with some exceptions to account for events outside our control, planned maintenance and disparity in reporting requirements across our operations) per 200,000 work hours. In 2016, ONEOK modified the AREER to divide by work-hours instead of the number of capacity units, which was an asset-based denominator. This modification resulted in the metric being more consistent with other industry metrics such as the Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) as defined by OSHA. The 2014 and 2015 AREER reported in this report differ from previous reports due to the modification.
    15 All emissions reported according to the EPA’s Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule. Suppliers of certain products that would result in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if released, combusted or oxidized (including emission equivalents of natural gas liquids fractionated); direct emitting source categories; and facilities that inject CO2 underground for geologic sequestration or any purpose other than geologic sequestration, are required to report under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule. Facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of GHGs are required to submit annual reports to EPA.
    16 Emissions reported according to Subpart NN – Suppliers of Natural Gas & Natural Gas Liquids, part of the Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule. Suppliers of certain products that would result in GHG emissions if released, combusted or oxidized are required to report under this rule. This calculation includes emission equivalents of NGLs fractionated.
    17 Emissions reported according to Subpart C and Subpart W – General Stationary Fuel Combustion Sources and Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems, part of the Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule. Under Subpart C, direct emitting sources are stationary fuel combustion, sources including equipment or machinery that combusts fuel. Subpart W, a rule applied in 2011, requires us to report methane and CO2 that escapes from operating equipment, venting and other processes common to natural gas systems. On Oct. 22, 2015, the EPA revised Subpart W to include two new industry segments for reporting year 2016. The revision adds emissions from inshore petroleum and natural gas gathering and boosting segment and transmission pipeline blowdowns. Facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of GHGs under Subparts C and W combined are required to report under these rules.