Compliance Inspections at Natural Gas Development Sites
A global integrated energy company has invested in the development of natural gas resources in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. The company’s commitment to safe and responsible development stresses that operations at well pads, impoundments, tank pads, and pipeline facilities are completed with respect for the communities and protection of the environment. The company therefore needed a partner with in-depth knowledge of federal and state regulations and permitting requirements related to construction site controls as well as wetlands, stream crossings, and threatened and endangered species.
The environmental consultant was required to provide a consistent response on a regional basis, including routine site compliance inspections and erosion and sediment (E&S) control inspections at client sites within 24 hours of rain events. These inspections would ensure that best management practices (BMP) were being followed and that there was no threat of sedimentation runoff or impact to surface waters.
GES established a program to conduct weekly inspections at over 140 locations and to efficiently manage the additional needs associated with ad-hoc precipitation events. The program utilized a streamlined and cost-effective system to schedule, complete, and track inspections, aided by GES’ EQuIS database system to facilitate data management, deliverable tracking, and electronic reporting to client and regulators.
A standard operating procedure (SOP) was developed to encompass all items requiring inspection, such as site E&S controls, stormwater management controls, accuracy of site permit and engineering documents, and site limits of disturbance. Specific quality assurance/quality control procedures ensured that the data collected and reported met the required standards. All data and information was captured through digital forms and uploaded in specific electronic formats within 72 hours of each inspection. Weather station data was then easily correlated with inspection observations.
GES’ work flow captured efficiencies in geography and tasks, allowing GES to implement an innovative unit cost structure that not only reduced the client’s cost but also streamlined the invoicing process, significantly reducing client staff administrative burdens. GES also provided corrective action logistics management as needed to ensure that any deficiencies were corrected and environmental compliance maintained. Inspection observations paired with weather station data enabled the client to avoid fines for erosion control failures due to anomalous rain events. GES has conducted almost 25,000 compliance inspections since the contract inception, and has successfully maintained compliance with state and federal regulations.