In addition to nearly 700 gas wells, Pioneer Natural Resources operates 800 miles of pipeline in the Texas Panhandle. Every day, spherical balls called "pigs" keep those lines clean. As the pig moves, it catches condensate, sediment, and rust. But every time a pressurized gas line is opened, there's also a small loss of product. In 2006, Pioneer devised a process to drop line pressure before it's opened. Pioneer also built larger launching and receiving barrels which enables workers to insert 14 pigs at once. This means hatches only need to be opened a couple of times a week instead of a couple of times a day. That cut emissions by 90%. The company invested more than 4 million dollars in the new process and already has taken what it learned here to its other operations.
The Texas Environmental Excellence Awards--a program of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality--celebrate outstanding waste reduction and pollution prevention projects.