Integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) best practices throughout our operations has long been a critical strategy for ONEOK.
From our board of directors to management to our employees, ONEOK is intentional about how we approach these important issues. We believe our success as a company is not only measured by our financials but also by how we treat our employees, engage with the communities where we operate and balance the environmental impact of our operations with the essential midstream services we provide. Our culture is one of continuous improvement, and while ESG reporting isn’t new for ONEOK, each year we work to identify opportunities to continue to enhance our ESG disclosures and performance.
The commitment of our employees to safe, reliable and responsible operations resulted in ONEOK achieving our lowest ever annual incident rates for employee injuries, preventable vehicle incidents and agency reportable environmental events in 2019.
We continue to invest in infrastructure to support sustainable operations. In 2019, we completed essential natural gas and natural gas liquids infrastructure in the Williston Basin to give producers the opportunity to significantly reduce the amount of natural gas being flared in the region. ONEOK’s investments in the basin have helped reduce flaring to 11% of natural gas production in May 2020 from an all-time high of 36% in 2011, and we expect further reductions this year.
We continue to look for additional opportunities to reduce emissions through upgrades to legacy equipment on our systems. One example is our recently completed conversion of an approximately 13,200 horsepower natural gas-fueled compressor station in Oklahoma to run on electric power, reducing sitewide greenhouse gas emissions by more than 94%.
From an investment perspective, our strong ESG performance, increased engagement and improved disclosures have led to our inclusion in approximately 30 ESG-related stock market indices, compared with 10 at the time of last year’s report.
We recently took our already strong commitment to emissions transparency and reductions further by becoming members of Our Nation’s Energy Future Coalition (“ONE Future”). As a member of ONE Future, ONEOK commits to achieving lower methane emissions from our natural gas transmission and storage operations by 2025.
This report marks our adoption of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) reporting standards. Our use of the SASB standards furthers our commitment to transparency and providing investors and all of our stakeholders with information on the topics that matter most to them. This report also includes the continued use of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards that have helped guide ONEOK’s sustainability reporting for more than a decade.
The events of 2020 have certainly been disruptive but have not distracted us from being good environmental stewards. I am proud of the thoughtfulness, resilience and integrity with which our team has approached the last several months in keeping our people and assets safe while mitigating our impact on the environment.
Many of our employees have been working virtually since mid-March as part of ONEOK’s response to COVID-19, but as a critical infrastructure business, numerous members of our workforce continue to report in person to operating sites. We’ve responded to COVID-19 by enacting enhanced safety protocols and resources for employees, as well as by providing financial support for our communities, which we detail further in this report.
As we navigate important social issues such as racial inequity, ONEOK employees have supported each other and our communities. Diversity is a core ONEOK value, and our framework for implementing diversity, inclusion and education throughout our company strives to honor our commitment. But we can all do better. ONEOK has responded to recent events with additional programming, including offering virtual group counseling to employees and providing virtual venues for employees to participate in and learn from honest conversations about race, inequality and a path forward.
Challenging market and societal conditions can provide an opportunity to show business resiliency and a company’s true values. I believe we’re meeting this challenge head on. From an operating perspective, the extensive infrastructure we’ve built serving multiple key U.S. producing basins is still there. Our strong financial position, stable customer base and growing demand for the products we deliver provide the foundation for a resilient business built to weather volatile market conditions. From a social perspective, our focus is listening, learning and providing support to our employees and communities where we can. Our ESG journey continues, and we remain more focused than ever on continuing to improve our performance and information to our stakeholders.
Thank you for your interest in ONEOK. I invite you to read this report for more of our story and welcome your feedback.
Terry K. Spencer
President and Chief Executive Officer