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Spill Prevention

A Constant Focus
Our spill prevention activities are governed by the regulatory compliance elements of ROMS, while emergency preparedness and response activities are covered under the ROMS Emergency Preparedness and Community Awareness element.

To prevent spills and protect the environment, Marathon Oil designs, operates and maintains our facilities with mechanical safeguards and secondary containment systems, and uses spill control plans. We invest in employee training, procedures, preventive maintenance and inspections for fluid-containing equipment and facilities.

In all resource plays, Marathon Oil stores both hydrocarbons and untreated produced water in storage tanks with secondary containment at its permanent facilities. Produced water may also be stored in open-top tanks during fracturing and flowback operations, when crews are onsite and able to respond quickly to a spill. We use active deterrents to protect wildlife, such as netting, strobe lights, flags and air horns for temporary pits that may hold recycled water during completions activities.

If a spill does occur, we activate our comprehensive preparedness and response capabilities to contain the spill and protect the surrounding environment. We train local, regional and corporate response teams, and conduct drills and exercises to maintain their readiness. We also have a network of response contractors and consultants.

When investigating spills and discharges to determine their cause, we look at both the actual and potential severity of the spill. The company takes incident-specific actions and, if necessary, broad corrective actions including remediation.

The number of spill events to the environment greater than or equal to one barrel increased by 34% in 2018, while the total global spill volume decreased by 8% year over year. In the U.S., we compare our Total Fluid Spill Rate to 27 other large independent oil and natural gas companies that participate in the American Exploration & Production Council (AXPC). Our Total Fluid Spill Rate of 7.73 for all fluids spilled (barrels) divided by production (billion standard cubic feet equivalent) in 2018 was well below the AXPC average of 21.38.

The majority of Marathon Oil spills in 2018 occurred in the Eagle Ford and were related to microbial-influenced corrosion (MIC). In 2015, we observed an increased volume of spills due to MIC in the Eagle Ford. We took action to reduce MIC-related damage through regular pigging (which cleans out the accumulation of solids that collect inside the line), periodic biocide treatment and continuous corrosion inhibition. In 2018, Marathon Oil used advanced inspection technologies on approximately 35 miles of pipeline, and conducted low point digs and automated ultrasonic thickness inspections to mitigate the likelihood of spills in the Eagle Ford. We also continued weekly aerial surveillance of more than 400 right-of-way miles twice per week to detect line leaks, spills and other issues. To reduce spills and improve asset reliability, our Eagle Ford pipeline integrity program has included building all new and replacement pipelines using internally coated steel since 2015, resulting in a decrease in large spills. Consistent with this trend, in 2018, the number of spill events increased but the total volume of spilled fluid declined slightly. We believe this indicates that we’re detecting spills more quickly. Based on this information, we are further assessing the pipeline system and considering technologies that might detect leaks at the earliest stages.

Below the AXPC average for total fluid spill rate in 2018
Aerial surveillance per week across 400 miles of right-of-way
  • ᵃ Data includes spills outside of secondary containment greater than or equal to 1 barrel

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