Compliance is one of our company’s key drivers and is vital to our sustainability efforts. Pursuing 100 percent environmental compliance promotes minimal environmental impact from our operations.

Our environmental efforts focus on minimizing the impact of our operations on the environment. These actions include:

  • Developing and maintaining an accurate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory according to current rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
  • Improving the efficiency of our various pipelines, natural gas processing facilities and NGL fractionation facilities; and
  • Following developing technologies to minimize emissions from our facilities.

Operating our businesses to meet the environmental expectations of each of our key stakeholders, including regulatory agencies, the communities in which we operate, landowners, customers, employees and investors, continues to be the goal we strive for in our day-to-day operations.

Agency Reportable Environmental Event Rate Metric

ONEOK established an internal environmental metric in 2014 that became a part of the Short-Term Incentive Plan criteria for all ONEOK employees. There is not an industrywide metric for environmental performance; however, we realized that measures and incentives play an important role in improving our environmental performance.

The Agency Reportable Environmental Event Rate (AREER) promotes a continued reduction in spills and emission events that are reportable to a state or federal agency.

In 2016, ONEOK had an AREER1 of 1.30, which was below our target of 1.34 and represented an improvement of more than 17 percent from 2015. This represents the second 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.

ONEOK continues to set targets to reduce the number of AREER events to improve our performance and demonstrate to all stakeholders our commitment to the environment.

Carbon Disclosure Project

In 2016, ONEOK participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) for the fourth consecutive year. The CDP is an international organization that works with shareholders and corporations to disclose the carbon emissions of participating companies. In 2016, the CDP received carbon data from more than 5,600 companies worldwide.

ONEOK is one of the few U.S. companies in our industry that participates in the CDP. We recognize the importance stakeholders place on the measurement and disclosure of environmental performance, and we will continue to seek effective ways to provide meaningful information in a manner consistent with similar companies in our industry.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

We consistently look for ways to improve energy efficiency across our operating footprint, including searching for innovative technologies and undertaking projects to manage our emissions.

Based on 2016 threshold levels, we reported emissions from 26 facilities totaling approximately 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e)2.

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

ONEOK Makes Significant Jump in Green Rankings

Our focus on ESH initiatives, and the importance the company has placed on improving in these areas, once again caught the attention of 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 2016, we ranked 284 among the U.S. 500, up from 461 in 2015. Our 2016 green score was 25.7 percent, up from 9.9 percent the previous year. We ranked 12 out of 41 in the energy industry sector.

Newsweek worked with 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 follows the core principles of transparency, objectivity, public data, comparability and engagement.

As a midstream service provider, we gather, transport, process and store hydrocarbon products for many customers. ONEOK delivers those products back into the market, and they are eventually delivered to consumers.

Federal greenhouse gas emissions regulations require annual reporting of emissions from several source categories. In accordance with the rule, ONEOK reports its emissions from its natural gas liquids (NGL) fractionators and other operating sources that have the potential to emit in excess of 25,000 tons per year of CO2e. This chart represents the total emissions reported by ONEOK for 2016. The chart includes two components – emissions NGL products supplied to customers and facility-direct emissions.

The supplied to customers component represents emissions that would result from the complete combustion or oxidation of the NGL products produced from fractionation facilities. 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, normal butane, isobutane and natural gasoline. Our 2016 total emissions supplied to customers was 47.5 million metric tons of CO2e.

Facility-direct 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, other emissions that may escape from operating equipment and other processes common to natural gas systems. Our 2016 total facility-direct emissions were 2.5 million metric tons of CO2e.

This chart provides a breakdown of the emissions supplied to customers between the two ONEOK business segments that operate fractionation facilities and deliver NGL products back into the market.

This chart provides a further breakdown of the facility-direct emissions attributable to each of the ONEOK business segments. The main source of facility-direct emissions is from the combustion of natural gas from running compressor engines and process heaters. In addition, emission sources include fugitive emission components such as valves at our facilities and other operating equipment such as acid gas treatment systems, pressure relief vent stacks, dehydrator vents and storage tanks.


Bushton Implements Single-Stream Recycling Program

Employees at our NGL storage and fractionation facilities in Bushton, Kansas, have been recycling in their homes for years; however, it wasn’t until last year that a recycling program was available in the remote area where our facility is located.

In June 2016, the facility began utilizing a single-stream commercial recycling program. This program allows our employees to dispose of all recyclables in one container rather than sorting them into different bins.

While the initial focus of the recycling initiative was in administrative and maintenance areas, employees are looking to expand the program to a larger, plantwide effort in the future.

Office employees now recycle cardboard, paper, cans and plastics, thus decreasing the facility’s environmental footprint. Employees also are looking at ways to reduce the nonrecyclable styrofoam footprint at the landfill and additional ways to recycle shredded paper.

Since implementing the program, the facility has recycled approximately 6,300 pounds of materials.

Other reported conservation efforts companywide include:

ONEOK Rockies Midstream, North Dakota and Wyoming

  • Implemented an annual compressor rod packing change program at many natural gas compressor stations and processing plants. The program significantly reduces the amount of ethane emissions from the compressors;
  • Rerouted product flow to reduce condensate tank venting and produce a higher quality product. These efforts included installation of vapor combustors, or recovery units, which further reduced tank emissions. These recovery units on storage tanks reduced emissions by capturing light hydrocarbon vapors and re-introducing the vapors back into the plant; and
  • Updated plant startup procedures to minimize the potential of emissions into the atmosphere.

ONEOK Field Services, Kansas

  • Reduced sitewide emissions by 86 percent at the Wellsford natural gas compressor station by installing a smaller, more efficient engine;
  • Replaced skid tanks with new blow case systems at several compressor sites to minimize the potential for tank overfilling due to large rain events; and
  • Converted natural-gas driven pneumatic pumps to electric-driven pumps at several locations reducing methane emissions.

Natural Gas Liquids Operations, Bushton, Kansas

  • Developed a procedure to reduce potential emissions during truck loading operations. The project is expected to reduce truck loading emissions by 50 percent.

Natural Gas Liquids Operations, North System

  • Installed a recovery pump on the Overland Pass Pipeline to capture product and return it to the product stream instead of sending the product to a flare for destruction.

Natural Gas Liquids Operations, Gathering

  • Performed five boring projects in 2016 with nitrogen, an inert dry gas, to reduce emissions.
Environmental Highlights and Awards

The natural gas gathering and processing business segment received the Gas Processors Association Environmental Excellence Award for replacing compressors and associated equipment at the Antioch compressor station, a key natural gas gathering infrastructure facility located in Antioch, Oklahoma.

1 AREER is defined as the total number of releases and excess emission events that trigger a federal, state or local environmental reporting requirement.

2 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 tons of a specific GHG by its associated global-warming potential.

3 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).

4 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.

5 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.

6 Total OSHA-recordable injuries and illnesses multiplied by 200,000 and divided by total employee work hours.

7 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.

8 Preventable Vehicle Incident Rate (PVIR) is the preventable vehicle incidents per 1 million miles driven.

9 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.

10 Total number of releases and excess emission events that trigger a federal, state or local environmental reporting requirement.

11 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.

12 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.

13 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.

14 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.

Daniel Chargois, operations engineer at Lonesome Creek natural gas processing plant.