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Vol. 12, No. 3 Week of January 21, 2007
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

KUPARUK ANNIVERSARY: Kuparuk Earth Energy Partners recycled

Effort changes from recycling at field in the ‘90s to working with partners on statewide conservation projects

Kristen Nelson

Petroleum News

Earth Energy Partners was formed in the early 1990s by Kuparuk River field employees to promote recycling, says Ken Donajkowski, ConocoPhillips Alaska vice president of health, safety and environment.

Recycling became a part of the Kuparuk culture, he said, and employees no longer needed Earth Energy Partners to focus their attention on recycling.

The program name has been recycled: Earth Energy Partners is now a ConocoPhillips partnership with external stakeholders.

Caryn Rea, ConocoPhillips Alaska senior staff biologist, describes the initial focus as “increasing the awareness of employees about waste reduction (and) waste recycling.”

“This program has a little different focus,” Rae said. “The original program, the waste reduction and recycling component of Earth Energy Partners, really took off in the field and it is now part of our culture. We are hoping to have this same reaction from employees with our new focus.

“The current Earth Energy Partners is looking to increase employee awareness of critters, access and conservation issues statewide,” she said. “The program also provides opportunities to work cooperatively with environmental NGOs, as well as state and federal agencies.”

Original program grassroots

“I know Alan Schuyler was a major player in this” effort to start recycling, Donajkowski said. “It was a grassroots consciousness effort on the part of employees — and that included contractors as well.”

A core group started some recycling efforts and then, in an effort to get more people “just thinking about recycling activities and environmental improvements” they came up with the idea of an easy recognition process based on a little card. They called it a “good guy” program — they decided “guy” was generic enough to include both men and women, he said. The idea was to fill out a card recognizing a recycling effort, such as bringing newspapers from your room for recycling.

Rea said individual efforts included using the same lunch bag every day — or a mug instead of a throwaway Styrofoam cup.

The program grew from individuals to departments.

Donajkowski said one thing that got significant recognition was when people in the vehicle maintenance shop found information on recyclable filters for oil, made from metal in such a way that you didn’t need a paper cartridge. You took the filters out, put them through a cleaning cycle and reinstalled them — you didn’t have to throw them out.

He said some of what they did is “painfully obvious” now, “but in the early years it wasn’t.” Stainless steel valves were tossed out, until they found there was a way to recycle stainless steel and set up bins to capture the valves.

Although the program was initiated at Kuparuk, “eventually it grew to cover all our operations, including Cook Inlet,” he said.

As the program grew, they wanted to give out recognition pins. Donajkowski said they enlisted Jim Davis to come up with a new logo every year featuring birds and animals such as swans, ducks and polar bears.

While interest in the “good guy” program waned, “all the practices remained very much engrained and in place,” he said.

Program re-energized

When Rea started coming up with ideas for environmental action in Alaska, the company adopted the name of the early employee initiative, Earth Energy Partners, and the program carried on, Donajkowski said.

Rea said the resurrected Earth Energy Partners includes external stakeholders such as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy.

“Now Earth Energy Partners is focused on long-term conservation of and access to key fish and wildlife habitats and populations in Alaska,” she said. “The tundra swan project is one of those projects. It seeks to get a better understanding of their migratory routes from the North Slope to their wintering grounds in the Carolinas,” she said.

In the re-energized program ConocoPhillips is partnering with the Alaska departments of Fish and Game, Transportation and Public Facilities, the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Parks and the Municipality of Anchorage in the Potter Marsh Trailhead and Access Improvement project initiated by Fish and Game. ConocoPhillips is providing funding and in-kind support.

The Potter Marsh work involves habitat enhancement for migratory birds and fish, increased public access to wildlife resources, education outreach, collaborative relationships with regulatory agencies and non-profit organizations and involvement opportunities for ConocoPhillips Alaska employees. The company contributed in excess of $600,000 for 2006 work at Potter Marsh, and has committed to spending in total some $1.5 million for environmental projects around the state.

Phase 1 of the project, completed in the fall of 2006, includes an extension of the boardwalk and clearing for an expanded parking lot.

“Helping improve Potter Marsh is an excellent way for ConocoPhillips to sustain and protect Alaska’s natural resources,” ConocoPhillips Alaska President Jim Bowles said in April. “This project is the cornerstone of our company’s Earth Energy Partners program, focused on balancing conservation and access to Alaska’s unique places.”

Kuparuk’s efforts have been recognized. The field received an Arctic Green Star Certification in 1998, an Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 Evergreen Award in 1999 and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission Environmental Stewardship Award in 2000.



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Schuyler: environmental stewardship

Alan Schuyler worked at Kuparuk from June 1984 through August 1996, initially as the person in the environmental compliance department, “which grew from only me to a small environmental compliance group which had four people.” Schuyler is now HSE manager at the ConocoPhillips JV in Long Beach. The department assisted in the field and ensured the oil field was in compliance with all environmental conditions of the company’s permit to operate including spill response.

Schuyler said the project or team accomplishment he’s most proud of “was the grassroots efforts of the Kuparuk community that promoted environmental stewardship of the oil field.”

He said the environmental compliance department “was instrumental in inspiring the field to promote pollution prevention processes throughout the oilfield operation,” with individual departments competing for ways “to reduce, recycle and reuse all materials required for a successful North Slope operation.” Kuparuk saved “thousands of dollars by more efficiently operating” the field as a result of these grassroots efforts.

Kuparuk was recognized for these efforts with awards from the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “These awards recognized the efforts that demonstrate that the organization had exceeded their regular duties to protect the environment,” Schuyler said.