With oil and natural gas exploration and production activities across the United States, Marathon Oil is no stranger to preparing our operations to run efficiently in cold weather. Each year from South Texas to North Dakota, our skilled teams prepare for freezing temperatures, sleet and snow and continue to deliver our piece of the energy supply chain.
By maintaining detailed business continuity plans we can protect our dedicated workforce and continue critical business functions during unexpected events, including a public health event such as a pandemic or a natural disaster.
Here are a few proactive measures we’ve taken to prepare for freezing temperatures in our Eagle Ford assets in South Texas:
- As part of our extensive digitalization strategy, our operations are monitored remotely and in real time through our SCADA network, which allows our field teams and control center to monitor equipment and well performance. Along with SCADA, we leverage Field Service Management, a powerful digital technology that allows us to prioritize, schedule and dispatch field resources to our sites. We also utilize Smart Alerts to detect operating abnormalities and automatically communicate those alerts back to our operating teams. A few examples of field abnormalities from a winterization perspective are declining battery voltage, decreasing gas temperature alerts, low methanol tank levels, etc.
- Every year we proactively evaluate our locations for the installation of line heaters – mobile units designed to protect our natural gas systems against freezing – and start deploying these units to key sites in September before temperatures dip. We focus this equipment on our highest impact wells to maximize their impact in maintaining our production levels. We have approximately 125 units operational throughout the field.
- At our larger facilities, we have backup power generation to keep key equipment online during power interruptions.
- We proactively perform preventative maintenance on major equipment ahead of the winter months to help prevent facility malfunctions during cold weather events.
Additionally, when faced with forecasted significant winter events, our team initiates a weatherization action plan, which consists of:
- Reviewing our field staffing levels, schedules and securing local hotel space to ensure we have coverage and are able to keep our teams local to minimize travel while maintaining a focus on employee safety and improving response time.
- Proactively draining surface lines to remove accumulated water or condensate to prevent freezing or ice plugs.
- Proactively fueling generators and charging batteries for control systems and communications tools.
- Injecting methanol into the natural gas stream as temperatures drop. Methanol is commonly used to reduce freezing in oil and gas production and transportation operations. We have over 700 pumps installed at most of our locations that are capable of being used to inject methanol to minimize freezing issues.
As critical infrastructure providers, Marathon Oil takes very seriously our mandate to maintain an uninterrupted supply of much-needed affordable energy. Our powerful combination of skilled and dedicated teams, early preparation and the best digital technology allow us to deliver affordable, reliable and responsible energy no matter the weather conditions.