Environmental
Water

Why It Matters to Us

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Explanation of the material topic and its Boundary

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Natural gas production requires water to operate sophisticated processes and procedures. Effectively managing our water consumption and disposal is critical to safeguarding human and ecological health. In addition, the efficient use and transport of water improves the overall efficiency of our operations and decreases air emissions through reduced vehicle transportation. We work to uphold high standards of water management to preserve stakeholder trust, minimize our environmental impact, and protect this valuable natural resource.

What We Are Doing

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The management approach and its components

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We recognize that natural gas development activities are water-intensive and we are dedicated to protecting water resources by operating responsibly. We use best-in-class management practices for evaluating water sources, permitting locations, operating withdrawal sites, and discharging water. We identify potential risks at each stage of our operations and implement appropriate mitigation measures. Further, we strive to protect the fresh water in our communities by investing in new technology, leveraging industry best practices, and reusing water whenever possible. We strongly support transparency and disclose the chemical makeup of our fracturing (frac) fluids via FracFocus.org.

Governance

Our Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) department, led by our Vice President, EHS, is responsible for the oversight and management of our environmental footprint including following water‑related procedures and meeting permit requirements. Our Completion and Production teams are responsible for overseeing the management of operations including associated water use. Our EHS team develops water-related procedures for environmental incidents and safety while our Production team develops operational procedures regarding the movement of water. We report on environmental progress each quarter, which includes any material environmental violations, to the Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility Committee of our Board of Directors.

Water Withdrawals

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Interactions with water as a shared resource

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We operate within the Appalachian Basin, which has a relatively abundant supply of water with low to moderate baseline water stress when compared to other basins in the United States. That said, we recognize that water is a precious resource and the importance in effectively managing any amount of water use. Prior to starting any water withdrawal, we assess the water source to determine a reasonable rate that can be extracted without harming the existing uses supported by the water source and we obtain approval from appropriate regulatory bodies. We use guidance from local government agencies to determine a reasonable flow rate for the bodies of water from which we withdraw water, specifically the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and Q7-10 method.

During our operations, we strive to minimize the quantity of fresh water used, mindfully select water sources close to our well pads to minimize transportation, and choose sources with adequate and sustainable capacity to support our withdrawal without impacting the watershed. Regulatory agencies in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio issue permits for water withdrawal based on the availability and quality of local supplies. We have procedures in place to maintain compliance with water permitting and reporting requirements.

To the extent possible, we use our own or third party produced water for our operations to minimize freshwater withdrawals. We use the following definitions in this report pertaining to water use and recycling:

Water Withdrawn/Water Consumption Normalized Fresh Water Withdrawn Recycled Water
The water is obtained from sources such as lakes, rivers, reservoirs, or municipal spigots/hydrants for use in our operations. We obtain permits for our freshwater sources and adhere to all applicable local, state, and federal guidelines. Due to the nature of natural gas extraction, virtually all water we withdraw is used immediately; therefore, we use “water withdrawal” and “water consumption” interchangeably throughout this report. The ratio of water withdrawn (in cubic meters [m3]) to barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) produced per day. Water that is recycled for reuse in our operations. This includes flowback, drilling water, and produced water collected from drilling operations.

We cooperate with state agencies to obtain permits for each water withdrawal site; this process includes a full evaluation of each applicable watershed. We adhere to agency recommendations on flow rates and do not exceed the maximum daily allowance to protect the quality and quantity of each source. Surface water withdrawals are taken in accordance with a state-approved water management plan to prevent withdrawal during low-flow conditions. This process also helps maintain adequate water for aquatic species and downstream users. In addition to surface water withdrawal, we obtain water from municipalities in accordance with contracts with local or regional municipal water suppliers. We oversee our contractors’ compliance with water withdrawal requirements using a daily review and approval process prior to water withdrawal.

Monitoring Impacts

Well integrity is critical in preventing impacts on water supplies within a few hundred feet of the surface. To protect these shallow aquifers, we use fresh water, soap, and air to drill the section of a well that could contain any fresh water. After drilling the freshwater section of the well, steel pipes (casings) are cemented in the borehole to protect groundwater and allow production of gas. We perform casing pressure tests and run cement bond logs as required by individual state regulations and we submit reports on these tests and logs to the applicable state agency. We had no well integrity failures in 2021 that resulted in an adverse impact on the environment.

Our water-well protection program includes conducting both pre- and post-drill sampling at landowners’ private water supplies. We analyze water supplies — including water wells, springs, ponds, and streams — for general water quality constituents and metals, dissolved gas, petroleum constituents, and, if warranted, bacteriological parameters. We also follow the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s recommendation for pre-drill water supply surveys. We conduct multiple pre-drill samplings for all water sources within 3,000 feet of the site and post-drill samplings for sources within 1,500 feet of the site based on hydrogeological conditions and other factors as necessary to protect domestic water supplies.

We maintain a database of pre- and post-drill results and submit analytical results to the property owner and to the relevant state environmental agency. We examine any landowner concern brought to our attention. If we perceive an issue, we immediately conduct a thorough hydrogeologic review and coordinate with the appropriate internal and external stakeholders to address and resolve it.

We store both fresh and recycled water in double-wall tanks and open impoundments, where permissible. Our impaired water impoundments, located exclusively in West Virginia, are inspected weekly and have leak detection systems. We do not currently have plans to create any new impaired water impoundments. In our other operating areas, we use tanks protected by containment that meet Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure best practices to store water produced during production. Containment at all unconventional sites is inspected monthly for adequacy.

Transporting Water and Avoiding Spills

To further improve water efficiency, we continue to transition away from water transportation by truck. We are working to source all fresh water for our operations from pipelines — which reduces truck traffic, our carbon footprint, and air emissions. As of December 31, 2021, approximately 98.8% of the fresh water we consume was delivered to our sites using pipelines. We have electrified many of our water pumps with either natural gas or electricity rather than diesel and we are pursuing utility power for sites where we are unable to transition our water pumps from diesel to natural gas. We are also working to develop a 45‑mile, mixed-use water system in some of our key operating areas that will serve as the backbone for optimal development of our wells moving forward, while also reducing environmental impacts and improving long ‑term operating expenses. This new water system was placed partially in service in 2021 and we turned in-line our first well pad supported by the water system in the fourth quarter of 2021. In 2022, we plan to open a centralized water storage facility, which will provide more storage and increase hauling efficiency and will result in reduced water disposal.

In instances where water is transported via truck (primarily produced water), we are working to increase our visibility of water use. Our onsite dashboards and remote water applications enable us to access real‑time data from multiple service providers and contractors in a centralized place. We have also installed global positioning systems and camera systems inside truck cabs and on trucks to provide a live view of the truck location. By the end of 2021, we installed water meters on 85% of our vehicles to improve water management accountability, with 90% of the installed meters having Bluetooth capabilities furthering remote access to data. We estimate that our evolved meter program has increased hauler efficiency by one barrel per load. We also utilize tank-level monitors to prevent spills, alarms to prevent overfilling, and technology to identify leaks in lines as soon as they occur.

Wastewater Management

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Management of water discharge-related impacts

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In addition to adhering to applicable local and federal regulations, we follow best practices for safe wastewater disposal. We frequently evaluate wastewater treatment technologies with the potential to further reduce disposal amounts.

 We work to recycle most of our wastewater by collecting flowback, drilling, and produced water to reuse when fracturing new wells. We seek to collaborate with local peers to promote sharing wastewater for reuse and we have several sharing agreements in place with other operators. These agreements generated approximately $8.2 million in cost savings in 2021 by reducing our water costs and transportation and disposal expenses annually. Over the last three years, we have recycled over 70% of the water produced from our drilling and completions operations. To enhance our recycling capabilities, we use a third-party storage facility to safely store wastewater until it is ready for reuse. We do not currently use any wastewater for purposes other than hydraulic fracturing. We recycled 82% of our produced water in 2021. We have reciprocal arrangements with other producers in Appalachia to reuse each other’s wastewater in hydraulic fracturing operations. In 2021, we recycled nearly 3 million barrels of our wastewater through use in other operators’ frac locations. In turn, we received 300,000 barrels of water produced by other operators for use in our operations.

To improve our footprint as it relates to water, we use the “Water App” — a logistics and data management tool — to optimize our trucking schedule, to track logistics, and to improve dispatch. The mapping function within the app also provides us with greater insight into our performance and we have used the app to improve our overall recycling and cost savings in Appalachia.

Our improved efficiency resulting from the Water App has decreased the number of trucks that are used to transport our water by 34% and led to a 20% reduction in disposal cost over the past two years.

Any wastewater that cannot be recycled is disposed of at permitted commercial disposal facilities. We typically employ underground injection control wells in Ohio, where formations are most suitable for injection. We conduct routine inspections of these facilities to confirm compliance with operating permits. We frequently explore alternatives to injection for any wastewater we are unable to recycle.

We understand that seismic activity due to wastewater disposal can be a concern for stakeholders. Deep‑well injection represents approximately 18% of our total wastewater disposal each year. In recent years, Ohio upgraded its injection and permitting program to further address potential seismicity risks. Additionally, the overall volumes injected in Ohio are relatively small compared to other states that have experienced seismicity — such as Oklahoma, where the injection is roughly 50 times greater than in Ohio.

Hydraulic Fracturing

SASB EM-EP-140a.3
Percentage of hydraulically fractured wells for which there is public disclosure of all fracturing fluid chemicals used

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Natural gas extraction often involves hydraulic fracturing — the process of injecting fluid into the well to create pressure to crack the underground shale formation and release the natural gas contained in the formation. The fluid injected into the well, referred to as fracturing fluid, is composed of water mixed with sand and a small percentage of chemical additives. To reduce the potential for groundwater impacts, our wells are completed with multiple layers of steel casing and cement through a process known as triple casing, which seals and isolates freshwater zones.

We are proud to be a charter registrant of FracFocus.org, an independent website created by the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission to disclose chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. We publicly disclose, via FracFocus, all of the chemicals used in our hydraulically fractured wells and regularly update such disclosures.

Additionally, we continuously explore more environmentally friendly alternatives for our fluids. We do not use diesel additives in our fracturing fluid and have worked to optimize and reduce the amount of other chemicals used.

How We Are Doing

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Evaluation of the management approach

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Water withdrawal

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Water consumption

SASB EM-EP-140a.1
(1) Total fresh water withdrawn, (2) total fresh water consumed, percentage of each in regions with High or Extremely High Baseline Water Stress

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SASB EM-EP-140a.1

We use dashboards in our digital work environment to enable us to monitor our performance against key operational indicators — including environmental incidents — and to drive internal transparency, accountability, and improved data accuracy. Additionally, we have incorporated automatic notifications to alert employees when any data concerns occur, making our operations more proactive and efficient. We also leverage a Production Control Center to optimize schedules and to monitor our assets in real time and utilize annual third-party environmental audits for select operating facilities and sites. We continue to add sensors to our wells with the intention of modernizing our completions activities.

We track all water withdrawals by source. In almost all cases, we consume the water we withdraw immediately and do not store water for long periods of time; therefore, our withdrawal and consumption are effectively the same. As shown in the table below, our primary sources of water in 2021 were surface and municipal water. While many of our water storage facilities and pits passively collect rainwater for use in our operations, rainwater continues to have a minimal effect on our water usage. Our freshwater use varies annually for the following reasons:

  • The location and seasonal availability of fresh water may not match the location and timing of drilling and completions activity;
  • The completion of more hydraulically fractured wells results in greater total water usage; and
  • The use of longer laterals — the horizontal portion of the well — requires more water for each completion on an absolute basis for each well, but reduces our overall water needs at an operator level.
Water Withdrawal/Consumption (thousands of m3)[1]
Metric

2019

2020

2021

Freshwater sources   

Surface water

1,208  406 1,411
Groundwater 0 <0.1

Third-party water (third party and municipal)

6,275  6,111 4,892
Total fresh water consumed[2] 7,483  6,517 6,303
Non-freshwater sources   
Produced water[3] 2,672  1,942 2,346

Wastewater[4]

22  118 149
Total non-fresh water consumed 2,694 2,060 2,495
Total water consumed 10,177 8,577 8,798
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Water discharge

SASB EM-EP-140a.2
Volume of produced water and flowback generated; percentage (1) discharged, (2) injected, (3) recycled; hydrocarbon content in discharged water

SASB EM-EP-140a.4
Percentage of hydraulic fracturing sites where ground or surface water quality deteriorated compared to a baseline

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SASB EM-EP-140a.2
SASB EM-EP-140a.4

We do not intentionally discharge any produced water to surface water, which is why we do not disclose a strategy or standards for relevant disposal and treatment. During 2021, we did not hold any permits to discharge wastewater and there were no occurrences of groundwater or surface water impacts resulting from our hydraulic fracturing operations conducted in targeted formations.

Produced Water

Metric

2019

2020

2021

Total volume of produced water (thousands m3)

3,460

3,370

3,860

Amount and percent of produced water discharged to groundwater (thousands of m3)

0
(0%)

0
(0%)

0
(0%)

Amount and percent of produced water injected (thousands of m3)

659
(19%)

906
(27%)

692
(18%)

Amount and percent of produced water recycled[5] (thousands of m3)

2,801
(81%)

2,464
(73%)

3,168
(82%)

Amount and percent of produced water reused at our sites (thousands of m3)

 Not applicable

1,941
(58%)

2,346
(60%)

Amount and percent of produced water delivered directly to third-party fracs (thousands of m3)

 Not applicable

84
(2%)

552
(14%)

Amount and percent of produced water delivered indirectly to third-party fracs via recycling facilities (thousands of m3)

 Not applicable

439[6] 
(13%)

270
(7%)

Volume of hydrocarbons discharged to the environment via water (BOE)

0

0

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[1] Due to the nature of natural gas extraction, virtually all water we withdraw is used immediately; therefore, “water withdrawal” and “water consumption” are synonymous for our purposes. We do not withdraw sea water.

[2] Please note, we operate primarily within areas with very low to low Baseline Water Stress (<20%) and very low risk to Water Depletion (Water Risk Filter). Some wells operated by us within Tioga County, Pennsylvania have medium Baseline Water Stress.

[3] Includes all impaired water (produced, flowback, drilling, containment, and cellar water).

[4] Includes impaired water used from other operators and third-party recycling centers.

[5] This is the amount of EQT-produced water that is recycled by any means, including reused at our sites, delivered directly to third‑party fracs, delivered indirectly to third‑party fracs via recycling facilities, or evaporated and/or treated and discharged to the environment without creating additional waste streams. In 2020, we began tracking our specific recycling activities and have disclosed them under “Amount and percent of produced water recycled.”

[6] In 2020, we consumed more recycled water than we delivered indirectly to third-party fracs via recycling facilities; on a net basis, this amount is zero.

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Development of Mixed-Use Water System

As part of our combo-development strategy, which involves the development of several multi-well pads in tandem, we frequently look to implement new processes geared towards making our operations more efficient — thereby fully maximizing the benefits of combo-development. One of the new processes that we implemented in 2021 involved transitioning away from water transported by truck in favor of piped water, where possible. Transitioning to piped freshwater reduces truck traffic, thereby reducing our carbon footprint and air emissions while also reducing road traffic and noise within the communities where we operate.

As we transitioned to seeking to source more of our water from piped sources, we quickly realized that a portion of our operating areas did not have access to the infrastructure necessary for piped freshwater. Accordingly, in 2021, we began the development of a 45-mile, mixed-use water system which, when completed, will serve as the primary source of freshwater for certain of our operations. This water system was placed partially in service in 2021 following the installation of 119,000 feet of pipe and we turned in‑line our first well pad supported by the water system in the fourth quarter of 2021. We also utilized this system to move impaired water offsite. In 2022, we plan to open a centralized storage facility, which will provide more storage and increase hauling efficiency, resulting in reduced water disposal. Our new water system is expected to service approximately 1.8 million feet of pay based on our development schedule, with an extensive inventory of future locations that will also benefit from this infrastructure.


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