Eagle Rock Energy Simplifies Environmental Permitting With EMIS, Earns Positive ROI within Only Two Years


Courtesy of Courtesy of IHS

Houston-based Eagle Rock Energy Partners MLP (ERE), builds and operates oil and gas properties, natural gas gathering systems, and natural gas processing plants across the United States. As part of the company’s growth strategy, ERE has acquired many new sites nationwide– each with its own permit requirements and compliance liabilities. Past owners had invariably relied on paper records or multiple spreadsheets to track hundreds of permits and requirements. After the ERE acquisition, enforcement issues would arise due to uncompleted tasks, lapsed paperwork and operation teams’ inability to manage outdated spreadsheets that were sometimes 2,000 lines long.

After a series of five acquisitions, ERE’s Environmental Director, Rachel Trainer, tried to sell the company’s leaders on the idea of implementing a centralized software system to manage regulatory compliance and permit data. It took more than 3 years and a big permitting/re-permitting project that cost the company almost $1 million for the approval to come from the executive team. “We audited 97 sites as part of our big permitting and re-permitting action,” Trainer explained. “We hired environmental consultants full time for the project at ‘consultant rates.’ Every site had to be re-permitted. I told the executive team I could not give them any assurance it wouldn’t happen again because it’s all on paper and in spreadsheets. It’s not in a centralized location in an environmental management information system (EMIS) where we can enter data, query data and get reports with easy access. They listened at that point.”

Trainer and her team were given one year to implement an EMIS. They chose IHS opsInfo, part of the IHS Environmental Performance Solution, because of its best-in-class capabilities and cost.

“I calculate the system has already paid for itself,” Trainer commented. “We’ve had a number of projects where previously we would have had to hire additional staff or consultants charging up to $100 an hour. I estimate a new rule change or permitting action could have potentially cost the company around $20,000 per month per project, or $500,000 total for two or three projects lasting a few months. But because our information is automated in the EMIS, we haven’t had to hire any additional staff, giving us a positive return on our investment in a mere two-year time period.”

ERE began loading data collected from different sites, including 15 gas plants and 100 compressor stations and tank batteries, plus 12,000 pieces of equipment. The permit data from the gas plants was the most complex. In the old spreadsheets, site personnel were required to perform lengthy tasks and enter data from thousands of line items.

The Challenges

  • Consolidate management of permitting data and documentation from newly acquired sites
  • Provide company’s executive team with transparency into EHS performance
  • Avoid risk of non-compliance due to employee turnover or reassignments

The Solution

  • IHS Environmental Performance Solution with IHS opsInfo

The Results

  • Implemented Environmental Management Information System in less than 1 year
  • Easily managed 100s of permits for 97 sites and 12,000 pcs of equipment in one system
  • Earned positive Return on Investment (ROI) within only 2 years
  • Achieved 100% data calculation accuracy while decreasing human-keyed errors by up to 50%
  • Reduced fulfillment time for ad hoc data requests from weeks to 5 minutes
  • Created accountability by tying EHS performance metrics tracked in EMIS to company bonuses
  • Provided equipment reliability data to support financial reporting, including 10-K and 10-Q

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