Throughout our operations, we focus on a systematic approach to caring for the land – from environmental assessments during our exploration activities, to wildlife and vegetation protection during production, to planning and implementing reclamation activities when drilling is complete.
The following examples represent just a few of the related activities that we undertake.
We carefully consider issues such as traffic, noise, light, and flora/fauna impacts in our development and operations activities. We work with local residents and independent environmental groups to help reduce our impact. This includes early engagement with local communities through town hall sessions and other communications avenues to discuss our full development plans, and listen to any concerns, questions or feedback that is provided to help shape our plans. For more detail on our stakeholder engagement, see our Report section.
Wherever possible, we reduce our footprint on the land by re-using existing well sites, flow lines and surface facilities to support development. This reduces the aerial impact of our operations and removes the need for the construction of new well sites or pipelines.
In Canada and the United States, we often employ the use of horizontal wells. Where sub-surface geometries are conducive, we program these wells from a single surface location or pad, with up to eight wells being drilled from a single location. Pad drilling reduces the aerial extent of the well site, surface facilities, pipelines and roads. To put this in perspective, a single vertical well has a surface impact of approximately 1.7 hectares, while an eight-well pad surface impact is only about 0.5 hectares per well. We also use this horizontal approach in France, in the Neocomian and Vulaines fields.
This reduction in surface footprint is amplified by the longer horizontal lengths of wells. In the past, one pad site would have developed about 20 sub-surface hectares (1,400 metres in horizontal length); today, we can develop 1,000 hectares from a single pad site (up to 3,000 metres of horizontal length).
Our Pembina stacked play in Canada has the added environmental benefit of being able to share surface infrastructure, such as roads, pipelines and processing facilities between several different plays. This higher well density reduces driving distances, and therefore emissions associated with development, monitoring and maintenance of wells. It also optimizes equipment and energy used during development and maintenance of productive reservoirs.
We also re-used existing well sites in The Netherlands during our 2014/2015 drilling program. We drilled nine wells, six of which were from pre-existing well sites, thus reducing the need for the construction of new sites or pipelines. In addition, all of our lease sites are sealed with asphalt to isolate them from the groundwater table. We collect rainwater that falls on our lease sites in a series of berms, gutters and storage systems so we can confirm first that it is safe to release back to the environment.
In Australia, our use of horizontal drilling and the re-use of existing well sites also reduces disturbance of the sea floor and impact on marine life.
In France, thanks to a request from a local beekeeper, honey is now harvested from our Saint-Méry battery site. It turns out that our site is a strategic location for beehives due to the presence of many fruit trees and acacias that are favourable to the proper development of the hives. The eight hives were placed in a small grove mainly composed of acacias, to position the bees as close as possible to flowers around which they can forage, thus optimizing the quantity and quality of the honey produced. The bee chosen is part of the "Buckfast" species, which is particularly hardy and renowned to be minimally aggressive.
In Australia, Vermilion has led the effort to develop the regional oiled wildlife response capability necessary to effectively manage the impact of a large oil spill on wildlife. We funded the necessary equipment (a rapid response unit that would receive, assess and treat oiled wildlife) and training, created a register of wildlife responders, and developed “at call” capacity for support specialists. To enable all-industry access, we subsequently donated this equipment to the Australian Marine Oil Spill Centre, which is funded by the Australia Upstream and Downstream Industry group, which includes Vermilion. This initial investment and follow-up support from Vermilion has enhanced oiled wildlife response within Western Australia. While we hope there is never a reason to use this equipment, we are proud to have meaningfully increased the spill response capabilities of industry in our operating area.