Environmental Overview and Our Commitment
At Targa, we are committed to protecting and preserving the environment. As members of the communities in which we live and operate, we take pride in our operations and the way we conduct our business.
Targa dedicates resources to participate in environmental regulatory advocacy, to monitor global energy demand and changing business priorities, and to work within our assets to foster operational reliability. We pursue opportunities to try to implement new technologies and to explore low carbon business opportunities that complement our business model and promote sustainability.
Environmental, Safety and Health Framework
Targa strives to operate safely, reliably and in a way that avoids, minimizes, and mitigates our environmental impact. We review our key Environmental, Safety and Health (ES&H) metrics and performance quarterly with our full Board of Directors, reflecting the importance of ES&H to all of our Board members. Our Board has deliberately made the decision for senior management to provide a detailed ES&H report to the full Board quarterly. Targa’s approach to ES&H is articulated in our ES&H Statement.
Targa seeks to implement sustainable work processes across our organization that achieve continuous improvement. To support our efforts in this area, we have implemented an ES&H framework of management policies, practices, systems, and controls that includes automated permit compliance tracking, systems development, compliance audits, and training. Our corporate ES&H subject matter experts keep these policies and practices up to date; while our field ES&H personnel work with other functional groups across Targa, including Engineering, Construction, and Operations, to oversee their implementation. Targa senior management routinely monitors the results of our ES&H programs and provides our Board of Directors with quarterly updates on performance metrics. Targa continually reviews overall ES&H performance metrics and adjusts goals and objectives, as needed.
We work to keep an open and transparent relationship with our federal, state, and local regulatory agencies. We routinely engage with regulatory agencies, either alone or through our industry associations, on policy development, rulemaking, education, technology review, and benchmarking.
Targa is a member company of the EPA Natural Gas STAR Program, which is a voluntary partnership between the EPA and oil and natural gas companies to adopt cost effective technologies and practices to reduce methane emissions. Additionally, Targa is active in a variety of industry associations and work groups that share best practices and interact with a variety of stakeholders.
For example, throughout 2019, Targa participated in the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association’s (NMOGA) Methane Workgroup. Targa assisted with technical report development and presented to the New Mexico Methane Advisory Panel (MAP). MAP is a joint group established by the New Mexico Environmental Department and Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department to prepare technical documents on methane emissions from oil and gas sources. MAP is comprised of members of New Mexico’s oil and natural gas industry along with national environmental and local advocacy organizations, including Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund, as well as interests of the Nations, tribes, and pueblos in New Mexico.
At Targa, we believe focusing on operational excellence, which includes facility reliability and maintenance practices, results in stronger environmental performance by minimizing process upsets and equipment failures, which may result in unexpected emissions. We are focused on multiple management practices that result in reduced emissions to the atmosphere, including:
- Actively monitoring for and repairing leaks
- Reducing and mitigating flaring events
- Tracking and investigating incidents to determine root causes and corrective actions
- Analyzing data on a routine basis and investing resources to solve problems
- Regularly reviewing performance of our operations including monthly reviews with senior leadership and quarterly reviews with our Board of Directors
As part of our environmental management systems, we conduct the following activities in each of our business segments to manage our air permitting and compliance program:
- Develop and maintain permit requirements lists in our compliance tracking system, along with required actions, deadlines, and designated responsible persons
- Provide regular and ongoing training for operations, engineering, and maintenance staff to foster the understanding of permit requirements
- Identify, record, and maintain a list of air emission sources and sources of fugitive emissions
- Quantify facility annual emissions per federal, state, provincial, or local requirements and document the basis of the quantification and estimation
- Quantify emissions and continue to meet all permitting requirements when equipment changes and/or modifications occur at a facility
Emissions Reduction Strategies
Targa continually seeks to reduce emissions by:
- Installing lower emitting equipment during facility expansions and new facility construction
- Reducing emissions from product transfer operations by implementing vapor balanced loading/unloading procedures
- Utilizing leak certified tank trucks that meet or exceed EPA standards
- Recovering products, that would otherwise be flared or lost to atmosphere, by using vapor recovery units
- Maintaining properly tuned and efficient compressor engines through preventative maintenance and emission testing
- Evaluating and expanding pipeline gathering system capacity and flexibility to reduce potential field gas flaring
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at our facilities generally result from natural gas combustion from operating natural gas driven compressor engines and process heaters; and from methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) that escape while operating equipment, flaring, venting, and other processes which are common to operating natural gas systems. Under applicable EPA greenhouse gas reporting rules, reporting is required for facilities that emit at or above 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) per year.
The following table represents Targa’s Scope 1 and 3 GHG emissions:
The following chart presents the various GHG components that make up Targa’s facility-direct Scope 1 emissions for 2019 as reported to the EPA:
The chart to the left represents the individual constituents of Targa’s facility-direct Scope 1 GHG emissions. These facility-direct GHG emissions result from the combustion of fuel and emissions vented to the atmosphere. GHG emission sources that vent to the atmosphere include fugitive components (valves, connectors, open-ended lines, flanges, relief valves and meters), compressors, acid gas treatment systems, blowdown vent stacks, dehydrator vents and storage tanks. The main source of Targa’s facility-direct Scope 1 GHG emissions is from the combustion of natural gas driven compressor engines, turbines and process heaters.
Targa has worked diligently to install electric compression in place of gas fired compression. Since 2017, Targa has installed seven natural gas processing plants across the Permian Basin utilizing electric driven compression instead of gas fired compression. This resulted in lower facility-direct Scope 1 GHG emissions and allows for Targa to gain the benefits of reduced indirect Scope 2 GHG emissions from power generation as renewables, including wind and solar, and natural gas, replace coal-fired power generation.
With the growth in domestic supply, Targa has continued to invest in energy infrastructure to meet customer needs. As a result, Targa's gathering and processing and fractionation system volumes have significantly increased over the measurement period referenced below.
While product sales have increased at our facilities as a result of Targa's increased operational scale, our emissions intensity remains relatively constant while we have been undergoing unprecedented growth, as noted below.
Responding to Production Growth in the Permian Basin
Significant growth in the Permian Basin in recent years has caused production to exceed the capacity of existing natural gas gathering and processing infrastructure. Since the beginning of 2017, Targa has expanded its natural gas gathering and processing infrastructure by adding approximately 1.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of incremental processing capacity, and related compression capacity and gathering pipelines. Our natural gas inlet volumes across our field gathering processing systems have increased 44% over this period. This additional infrastructure increases gas capture and meaningfully reduces potential producer flaring of natural gas. We coordinate and work proactively with the producer community in the Permian Basin to align expansion of our infrastructure with their production forecast.
During 2019, Targa continued its focus on improving operational reliability and reducing emissions from operational upsets and equipment failures. We continue to reduce flaring across our entire Gathering and Processing business by analyzing flaring data, looking for root causes, and implementing corrective actions. Examples include, looking for sources of oxygen that cause operational upsets, expanding liquid handling facilities, and increasing communication with third parties whose downtime directly impacts our operations.
Targa’s LPG Export Operations
As a leading provider of midstream energy services and through our integrated platform, Targa directs its growing NGL supply to its downstream complex in Mont Belvieu and its liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) export facility in Galena Park, Texas.
The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are designed to address all three dimensions of sustainable development (environmental, economic, and social) and are integrated into the United Nations global development agenda of 2015 to 2030. LPGs advance progress towards U.N. SDGs. Approximately 3 billion people globally need a cleaner energy cooking solution per the World LPG Association (WLPGA). LPGs provide a reliable, easily transported energy source that contribute to a 20% lower carbon footprint than heating oil and a 50% lower footprint than coal. Where electricity is not available, the use of LPGs has positively impacted the health and prosperity for local people in many nations with rural communities.
Through our Logistics and Transportation businesses, Targa is well positioned to support global energy needs. Targa’s facilities helped export more than 3.6 billion gallons of LPG globally in 2019.
Targa implements leak detection and repair programs for our pipelines, gas plants, compressor stations, and fractionation and storage facilities. Some of these programs may meet an applicable regulatory requirement while others are voluntary. These programs help identify unexpected leaks which benefit both the environment as well as protecting against the unwanted loss of valuable natural resources. Leak detection methods are broadly classified into two categories: external leak detection methods (i.e. aerial patrol and on-site inspection) and internal leak detection methods (i.e. pressure flow monitoring and computational pipeline monitoring).
Facilities subject to these leak detection and repair inspections vary depending on facility type and regulatory requirements. Inspections may be conducted monthly, quarterly, or annually.
Types of leak detection inspections at Targa include:
- Field inspections of pipelines via walking, ATV, or truck
- Aerial leak surveys
- Plant and compressor station leak detection and repair programs
- Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) Programs including dedicated OGI personnel
In 2019, Targa enhanced its leak detection and repair program, which included:
- Monitored over 50% of our compressor stations quarterly using infrared cameras to look for leaks
- Engaged with industry and government agencies through workshops and advocacy efforts to educate, drive best practices, and identify opportunities for improvements
- Evaluated results from our participation in a pilot study with an industry partner to test new technology from aerial flights to look for leaks
- Continued to evaluate additional technology and additional voluntary monitoring
Conservation and Renewable Energy
We strive to be energy efficient and minimize the amount of waste we generate from our operations. We have implemented several energy initiatives that manage our energy consumption. For example, Targa has installed solar panel powered metering stations at the majority of its customer delivery points (> 14,000 sites) to reduce combustion emissions. We also employ electrical load-shedding techniques on a variety of our assets and continue exploring ways to expand this practice and other methods to improve energy efficiencies.
In 2019, Targa was instrumental in assisting the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (NDDEQ) with the development of rules to streamline the approval process for the bioremediation of soil for beneficial use. Targa recognized that a majority of impacted soils resulting from hydrocarbon spills in North Dakota are sent to industrial landfills for disposal. This disposal of soil occupies landfill space, thereby reducing the available space for waste that is not reusable. Bioremediation removes the hydrocarbons using microbial enzymes, or “bugs,” that consume the hydrocarbons for food and has been in practice in other areas for years. The result of this bioremediation is a very fertile soil that can be reused. Targa utilizes bioremediation whenever possible in other states in which we operate such as Texas and New Mexico.
As an example of the efforts, Targa worked closely with State Legislators to encourage a formal process to permit and approve the bioremediation and reuse of soil. Targa also reached out to North Dakota ranchers and farmers to share with them the bioremediation process that allows their soil to remain on their property usually in a more fertile condition and encouraged them to share with their State representative support for this process. Targa has participated in a workgroup to establish general permitting rules which will set in place the overarching requirements that industry must adhere to for the bioremediation of soil and be much less burdensome on the State regulatory staff to approve. As a result, the NDDEQ has prepared the draft rule which will allow a general permit for the bioremediation soil.
Renewable Energy Efforts
As our volumes have increased, so has our electricity demand. Targa continuously looks for opportunities to find cost effective, reliable power solutions for our assets that can also reduce emissions. Renewable power sources like wind and solar offer the midstream business an opportunity to reduce both criteria pollutant emissions and GHG emissions from our assets. Some projects may also offer Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) that can offset certain GHG emissions generated by the operation of our assets.
Spill Prevention and Response
Targa continually takes preventive measures to eliminate or reduce the risk of spills that could impact the environment such as secondary containment construction design and material, routine inspections, annual training and preparations by performing response drills. If a spill does occur, Targa utilizes a cross-functional team that is trained to focus first on safety and environmental protection. Targa implements spill prevention, emergency preparedness, and spill response programs to minimize the impact to the environment. The success of these programs is demonstrated based on prevention and preparedness through response drills and ongoing training. Targa uses a computer-based training system based on our equipment and facilities to provide annual training for facility personnel. The training reinforces the importance of prevention by conducting routine inspections and maintenance of equipment. Targa’s standard procedures entail stopping the spill and recovery of all free-standing liquids using vacuum, skimming and absorbent equipment, remediation of soil impact, and restoration of land.
Protecting Resources During Construction
Targa works to minimize impacts to the environment during the construction and operation of our assets. The assessment of potential environmental effects during a new project involves a tiered conservation approach of avoidance, minimization, and mitigation. Prior to beginning a project, we develop plans and procedures relating to surveying, construction, impact avoidance, mitigation, revegetation, and operations. To evaluate a proposed route on a new pipeline project, we conduct civil, cultural, and environmental surveys. Natural resources and cultural surveys are also completed for wetlands, streams, protected species, and cultural resources before construction projects begin.
The purpose of the surveys is to gather information about soil, topography, water, vegetation, wildlife, threatened and endangered species, cultural resources, land use, and other important biodiversity considerations that are used in determining project siting and routing to avoid and minimize environmental impacts and plan for mitigation such as erosion control, soil stabilization and habitat protection.
Our environmental specialists consult with applicable environmental agencies and conduct extensive studies to identify environmental resources and implement measures to reroute and avoid or minimize impacts.
During construction, potential effects on resources may be minimized by using different crossing methods that do not disturb the resources, such as hydraulic directional drilling or boring beneath the resources. Industry “best management practices” are also implemented. For example, in active construction across stream banks, sediment barriers and storm water filtration devices are installed, inspected, and maintained regularly to prevent erosion from storm water runoff. We also provide required inspection for stream bank stabilization and restoration in accordance with applicable regulations, which increases restoration efficiency and reduces soil exposure to erosion post construction.
Following construction, Targa works to restore the right-of-way, including, where possible, seeding the property to landowner and Targa agreed-upon specifications with native grass seed obtained from local suppliers recommended by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Targa also provides inspections of the right-of-way, where possible, to promote the effectiveness of the native grass seed growth. Being good stewards of the land requires extra attention in areas impacted by construction, and restoration of right of way will always be a key focus for Targa.
During the construction of our Grand Prix Pipeline in East Texas, Targa worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) to develop mitigation and avoidance strategies for threatened and endangered species. Specifically, East Texas is home to many important wildlife species including the Houston Toad which is an endangered species. USFWS was instrumental in helping us avoid and minimize impacts to Houston Toad habitat and life cycle. This collaboration also helped us to identify Texas State University as the recipient for a mitigation donation. The donation to the University helped support the graduate engineering students working on a technology which utilizes wireless cell phone connection to allow for audio monitoring and analysis for the presence of the Houston Toad in its natural habitat. Targa also helped fund the development of an automated visual detection approach that can be used with passive sampling arrays and designing cameras to detect adult and juvenile toads at locations on the landscape. Portions of the donation also applied to head start efforts for the Houston Toad at the Houston Zoo, Inc, Ft. Worth Zoo, Dallas Zoo, and the USFWS federal fish hatchery in San Marcos, Texas.
At Targa, we are committed to consistent and proper management of waste to promote the protection of the environment, implement pollution prevention, encourage waste minimization, and focus on compliance with environmental laws and regulations. Our Waste Management and Minimization Plan guides us to accomplish this through a developed system of consistent waste identification, classification, minimization, handling, and disposing of all wastes. The industrial waste that Targa typically generates is associated with scheduled tasks or project work for pipeline and tank/vessel maintenance, as well as used filters, used oil from engines, and general trash.
As an example of minimization, Targa utilizes landfarming in Texas as allowed by Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) for management of crude oil and condensate impacted soils in order to bioremediate the soil for reuse. This allows monitoring and treatment to achieve applicable regulatory standards and allows restoration of native soils. In addition, drilling mud produced during pipeline bores are often landfarmed in accordance with the RRC permitting process. These methods of waste minimization prevent the unnecessary usage of industrial landfill space.
In North Dakota, Targa worked with the NDDEQ Waste Division and the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Tribal Council to permit and approve, respectively, two pilot waste minimization projects to bioremediate soils using microbial enzymes to remediate hydrocarbon impacted soils. These projects, each approximately 10,000 cubic yards, effectively removed the hydrocarbons which resulted in fertile soil available for reuse and demonstrated to each agency effective waste minimization and restoration of a natural resource.