- Corporate Responsibility
- Royalty Owners
SWN’s regional community relations staff works proactively to develop effective solutions to potential community issues. We also actively seek community feedback and respond quickly to input received.
Responding to Community Concerns
Road safety, road maintenance, traffic issues, noise and environmental impacts are some of the most common concerns local residents raise about our operations. We work with communities to address these and other issues in a mutually beneficial way.
Lighten the Load on Roads and Communities
Given that steep, narrow and winding roads are commonplace throughout our operational areas, managing road-related issues is key for SWN. In early 2019, we launched the “Lighten the Load” program, aimed at reducing impacts associated with truck traffic.The Lighten the Load program has four pillars:
- Reducing truck traffic through more efficient water transportation: To reduce water-related truck trips, we are building extensive water pipelines to serve our operations. We have removed 1.3 million truckloads from roads since we began operations in Appalachia in 2010 by investing $150 million in pipeline infrastructure to carry water instead of utilizing trucks for transportation of water. In 2019, we continued to eliminate truck traffic by transporting 97 percent of our fresh water by pipeline, including 100 percent of our freshwater transport in our Southwest Appalachia division.
- Smart planning of work areas and transportation logistics: Prior to operations in a given area, we determine the safest and most efficient routes in light of expected use and other traffic and develop detailed transportation control plans. During operations, our logistics teams optimize routes, monitoring road use from a 24/7 dispatch center and adjusting plans as needed to minimize vehicles on the road and maximize safety.
- Investing in road repairs, upgrades and maintenance: In many cases, we collaborate with state and local authorities to fund road upgrades. Other road maintenance and improvement efforts include working to improve road bonding and maintenance programs.
- Hiring trucking companies with local drivers who share our commitment to safety: We hire local transportation providers as much as possible and work with vendors to design dedicated routes (route familiarity improves safety). We seek long-term relationships with transportation contractors rooted in trust and shared values, including community safety.
Safe Driving Practices
Doing our part to ensure safe roads is a vital part of being a good neighbor and a top priority for SWN. To that end, we have developed safe driving training and monitoring programs, and we are continuing our trend of improving driver safety.
In West Virginia and Pennsylvania, where roads are often narrow, winding and/or steep, we have taken a number of additional measures to help ensure road safety, including:
- Prohibiting large truck loads on local roads during school pickup and drop-off hours
- Avoiding times and roads important to residents’ daily work commutes
- Analyzing roads to identify unsuitable or unsafe sections for heavy trucks on the road
- Using escort vehicles and flaggers in places with limited sight lines, limited communication, steep drop-offs and/or narrow, winding roadways and other hazards
We are committed to limiting the traffic associated with our operations. We help reduce the number of trucks on local roads through three primary practices:
- Multiple-Well Drilling Pads: We can sometimes drill up to 10 wells on one pad, sliding the rig to a new location on the pad without using roads.
- Pipeline Systems for Water Transport: Moving water to and from operational sites can result in an increase in truck traffic. To limit this, we aim to move fresh water via underground and surface pipelines, in lieu of trucks; we are continually building up our pipeline system in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for this purpose. Thanks to these water pipelines, we completely eliminated the need to truck fresh water to our work sites in our Southwest Appalachia Division in 2019. We continue to expand both freshwater and produced water pipelines in an effort to continue to eliminate the need for trucking water. We also use pipelines to share water with other operators nearby, further reducing truck traffic, road impairment and pollution while ensuring steady access to water resources.
- Centralized Logistics Operations Center: When trucking is needed, our Logistics Operations Center actively manages our operations to minimize traffic, road impacts and vehicle emissions by planning efficient routes that avoid high-traffic periods as well as bridges and roads not built for heavy truck traffic.
truckloads of construction equipment and material eliminated with each new well drilled on a multi-well drilling pad
of fresh water carried by pipelines company-wide in 2019
of fresh water carried by pipelines in our Southwest Appalachia division in 2019
truckloads off the roads since 2010, due to use of water pipelines in Appalachia
Each year, SWN and the natural gas industry pay millions of dollars in state taxes, impact fees and maintenance fees, which are often used to restore and maintain highways and secondary roads. We also work with local road departments to help support road maintenance with our own equipment.
We use several methods to reduce dust generated by vehicles traveling on gravel or dirt roads. Some methods can minimize dust for months, even during high-volume activity. We encourage all local residents and SWN personnel to report areas in need of dust control through our 24-hour call center.
Compressors pressurize natural gas so it can be transported through pipelines. Because compressors can be noisy, we design our compressor facilities to bring the noise level below – usually well below – applicable limits.
Methods we use to control noise levels in our operations depend on location and system requirements, and include:
- Situating compressors away from homes and occupied buildings, sites that draw people, and areas of environmental concern
- Operating nonstandard compressor exhaust systems with extra sound-reduction capabilities
- Using high-efficiency coolers with fans that run at slower speeds to reduce noise
- Installing larger piping to reduce gas velocity and reduce high-pitched sounds
- Constructing buildings or sound walls around compressor equipment
Community members want to know how our operations will impact the environment, including water resources, air quality, land, parks and ecosystems. As described in the Environment section, we have developed industry-leading programs to preserve water resources, protect water quality and reduce air emissions from our operations. We are also working hard to minimize our operational footprint and surface impacts, including by preventing spills and protecting biodiversity.
How We Handle Feedback
Proactively anticipating and being responsive to local concerns about our operations is core to how we operate. When issues arise, we work with the community to address them immediately. Our 24-hour feedback hotline connects callers with SWN personnel who have the knowledge and authority to address and resolve issues, and we follow up as needed to keep callers informed. We respond to all calls within 24 hours, and most much sooner.
We also utilize a companywide routing and tracking system for community feedback that documents comments received, including the subject, where the feedback was received and how it was addressed. We track and analyze data from this system to capture learnings, spot trends and proactively coordinate solutions with communities.