Operational Emissions Reduction 

Pioneer’s team of air quality experts, an interdisciplinary group of corporate and operations personnel, works to achieve compliance with all applicable federal and state requirements, addresses issues surrounding air quality permitting and develops strategies to reduce emissions. Additionally, Pioneer’s air quality team interprets new and upcoming federal and state air quality rules in order to foster dialogue with regulators, industry peers and trade groups and facilitate understanding of how these changes can impact the oil and gas industry.

Pioneer has initiated a program including advanced emissions measurements to better understand emissions from our field operations and their impact on air quality and to identify opportunities for emissions reductions through best practices and technological solutions. For example, Pioneer has participated in studies with other industry participants and the Environmental Defense Fund, led by the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas, to measure methane emissions.

Operational improvements have contributed to a reduction in our direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are reportable to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pioneer reported 0.97 million metric tonnes of GHG emissions (CO2 equivalent) to the EPA in 2015. Based on this value, our 2015 GHG emissions intensity was 8.2 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent per 1,000 barrels of gross oil-equivalent production (CO2 equivalent/MBOE). EPA emissions reporting requirements do not cover all of Pioneer’s equipment or activities, and we are working to better identify and measure other sources as well.  

Part of our success in reducing emissions has come from improved well completion activities that control or capture flowback emissions (i.e. performing “green completions”). Ahead of 2012 EPA regulations, Pioneer began designing solutions to capture flowback emissions from gas well completions in our Eagle Ford Shale asset and our since-divested Barnett Asset. We have gone beyond the EPA requirements by recovering or combusting emissions from condensate tanks during the completion phase for Eagle Ford Shale gas wells. Our operations teams are also controlling or capturing emissions from oil well completions in the Eagle Ford Shale and Permian Basin.

In 2011 Pioneer proactively implemented a leak detection and repair (LDAR) program for our Colorado operations, with well sites, compressor stations and natural gas pipelines being systematically surveyed. Pioneer has since implemented LDAR methods across all of Pioneer’s operations to monitor facilities for fugitive emissions. The LDAR program utilizes audio, visual, and olfactory (AVO) inspections as a standard part of facility inspections performed by lease operators. In addition, Pioneer employs a team of thermographers who use optical gas imaging (OGI) cameras and remote methane leak detectors (RMLD) to conduct surveys at our facilities, such as well sites, tank batteries, compressors, pipelines, and midstream facilities.

OGI cameras utilize infrared sensors to allow our thermographers to visualize emissions that are not visible to the naked eye. Several manufacturers currently produce OGI cameras, but Pioneer currently utilizes cameras manufactured by FLIR®. As of December 31, 2015, Pioneer owned 9 FLIR® cameras and 2 RMLDs, and during the year our team of thermographers conducted OGI surveys at more than 13,350 locations (e.g. wellheads, tank batteries, compressor stations). An additional 130 miles of pipeline was inspected in length. Facilities are currently prioritized for surveys based upon the potential for fugitive emissions to occur.

Our Colorado operations LDAR program has been further developed to meet the specific requirements of the 2014 Colorado Regulation 7 requirements. Colorado’s Regulation 7 requires oil and gas producers to inspect and repair hydrocarbon leaks from components at all existing and newly constructed well production facilities and compressor stations, followed by ongoing, regular inspections dedicated to leak detection, repair and reporting.

In addition to our standard LDAR program, Pioneer is testing continuous emissions monitoring systems in the Permian Basin. Continuous emissions monitoring may help us to better direct our LDAR program and quickly locate unexpected emissions.

Direct access for scientific analysis

Pioneer participated in studies led by the University of Texas to measure methane emissions, along with Environmental Defense Fund and other industry participants. Pioneer provided direct access to production sites and equipment, and assisted in the design of safe sampling protocols. The participation of Pioneer and other producers made safe measurements of methane emissions directly at the source possible, facilitating scientific analysis where little empirical data previously existed. Findings from the study may inform how methane emissions are measured, monitored and managed.

Fleet Vehicle Emissions Reduction 

AirFig3Since 2008 our half-ton pickup manufacturer’s fuel economy improvements have led to a 25 percent improvement in overall miles per gallon. Additionally, the average vehicle fleet age in the U.S. is 11.5 years; however, Pioneer’s average vehicle age is only about three years. This assures that our vehicles are equipped with the latest technology available to reduce our vehicular air emissions.

Pioneer has tested a new aluminum truck platform, which trims 700 pounds of gross vehicle weight, while maintaining equal or greater performance. Testing has proven successful by increasing savings in both fuel and overall vehicle costs. Pioneer plans to start purchasing the aluminum frame vehicles to meet our fleet demands.

Additionally, we are putting measures in place to reduce the number of overall miles driven and improve fleet efficiencies, which will reduce our fleet air emissions. Three core components include:

  • Truck Connectivity/Mobility – In 2015 more than 450 fleet trucks were equipped with a mobile WiFi hotspot. This remote access reduces the need to return to field offices for administrative tasks, which reduces our vehicular fuel consumption and air emissions.
  • Integrated Private Lease Roads – Our private lease roads have been integrated with public roads within our routing systems. This allows us to build custom routes and monitor vehicular movement on all roads that we travel.
  • Fleet Idle Time Reduction – We use GPS technology to monitor and reduce the amount of time our vehicles spend idling in the field. By minimizing idle time, we reduce fleet emissions and fuel costs, as well as extending the overall lifecycle of our fleet vehicles.

Fewer vehicle emissions with CNG

AirFig4Pioneer has made great strides in promoting the commercial use of natural gas vehicles. To date, the company has two compressed natural gas (CNG) fleet fueling stations and 176 CNG-equipped fleet vehicles to run on bi-fuel engines that use natural gas from Pioneer’s own production. Each natural gas vehicle on the road reduces greenhouse gas emissions and fueling costs, while increasing operating efficiencies.


Pioneer is committed to preserving our environmental heritage through safe, efficient and environmentally sound business practices and operations.

Sustainability at Pioneer »


Pioneer employees work diligently to prevent spills, and we collaborate with regulators and landowners to minimize our footprint on the surface.

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Pioneer looks for innovative solutions to reduce water consumption, protect groundwater quality and respond transparently to public interest.

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