During financial year 2018, Elk has transformed with the purchase and becoming operator of Utah's largest oil field, the Greater Aneth Oil Field on January 1 2018 (Elk 67%; Navajo Nation Oil and Gas (NNOG) 33% non-operator).
The addition of Aneth staff into Elk gives us an employee and consultant headcount approaching 115, a large majority of which are field operations based. As such this has necessitated Elk broadening its sustainability strategy and future sustainability reporting scope as we have transformed into an active, best practice oil field operator. Elk has been fortunate to be able to add, adapt and adopt operating business values in health, safety and environment. This ensures our expanded employee and contractor base can do what we ask of them within a transparent and useable EHS management system. This adaptive approach also encapsulates other areas of good corporate governance as management structures are enhanced to deliver more robust systems that in turn are focused on providing continued shareholder returns.
Steering the sustainability governance structure is Elk's COO assisted by our US-based EHS Coordinator who holds the Certified Safety Professional (CPS) qualification and two field-based EHS Specialists along with a Governmental/Corporate Affairs Officer. This level of corporate and field oversight ensures sustainability themes are implemented into and monitored across our everyday business practices in the areas we operate in. As Elk further develops as an Operator this will allow us to better measure, refine and embed sustainability goals and targets.
Three core areas have been identified by Elk as the focus of its sustainability reporting in FY2018 and some highlights below:
- Health and safety of our staff and contractors is paramount and taking over operatorship of Aneth on 1 January 2018 allowed us to undertake ground-up revisions of our Corporate Safety Manual, Process Safety Management Manual, Operator Qualification Manual and Contractor EHS Manual.
- Wellbeing of our staff and contractors: As the new Aneth operator Elk undertook early in 2018 the "8760" Safety Campaign Development - Safety should be a priority 24 hours a day, 365 days per year and the Montezuma Creek Safety Awareness Day 22 May 2018. Elk was also a promoter and sponsor of the 2018 Walking Together for Health Nations by the Utah Navajo Health System, Inc and a sponsor of the 2018 Ashlyee Mike Memorial Run.
- Diversity and Equality: Elk is further building its capability in actively managing diversity to develop and improve the talent available to drive performance and capability outcomes. Most of Elk's Aneth field operations and office employees across all disciplines belong to the Navajo Nation.
- Landowner interaction: The Greater Aneth Oil Field (Aneth) lies solely within the Navajo Nation Reservation and Navajo Nation Oil and Gas (NNOG) is Elk's 37% partner in further developing the field. NNOG generates significant income for the Navajo Nation from its operating partnership with Elk. On 207 square kilometres (80 square miles) that make up Aneth there are some 125 homesteads and Elk field operations managers ensure a two-way dialogue with homesteaders making certain they are fully aware of impending works in the vicinity of their properties to minimise disturbance.
- Corporate citizenship: Elk was proud to be part-sponsor of the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Welcome Centre, Tse' Bii' Nidizisgai Annual Community Celebration in Monument Valley, Utah. This annual celebration is a showcase for traditional and cultural entertainers to gather and perform for locals and tourists during the event. Elk was part sponsor of the event with donations of cases of water, elder and veterans' giveaways, cases of popcorn and company logo trinkets of tote bags and water bottles.
Elk also maintains strong links with academia across the State and hosted graduating engineering students from the University of Utah for a tour of the Aneth Unit. Senior Elk engineering field staff also acted as judges in the annual Whitehorse High School Science Fair. Elk employees volunteered at the Montezuma Creek Elementary School in March 2018 for "Read Across America". Our volunteers read Dr Seuss books to kindergarten to third grade classes in honour of Dr Seuss' birthday.
- Operating footprint: As well as adhering to all Navajo Nation, State and Federal protocols as a diligent operator of Aneth, we all appreciate the natural beauty of the environment we work in. On World Clean Up Day 2018 sponsored by Elk a large number of employees, family, friends and community members volunteered and came together to clean up almost 32 kilometres (20 miles) of nature strip adjoining the public highway through the Aneth area.
- Regulatory compliance and reporting: Elk has established relationships and reporting requirements with the requisite traditional owners, State and Federal authorities, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Environmental Protection Agency - Water and Air Permits, the Navajo Nation Water Board, the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- Elk's benefit on local communities and businesses: Each summer local college and high school students are selected for temporary employment for a month with the Aneth Chapter. The student workers and the Chapter look for work placements with local businesses due to limited places for the students to find work. Elk Governmental/Public Affairs office employed a college student to work in the front office for three weeks. The student provided administrative support and learned receptionist/office skills. Elk additionally provided donations to the Aneth Chapter for its summer programme workers celebration.
Because of Elk's transition into an active Operator (63%) of the Greater Aneth Field in the US State of Utah during FY2018 we have proactively grown our profile with the addition of staff and contractors, whilst engaging with other primary stakeholders, regulators, landholders, local communities and shareholders. our smooth transition to Aneth Operator was achieved by the diligence and commitment of existing and new Elk staff and contractors working together safely and efficiently. Elk managed this transition at the same time as fully engaging as a non-operator in delivering the Grieve EOR Project in joint venture with Denbury (51% and Operator) and continuing to work in joint venture with the ConocoPhillips operated (46%) Madden/Lost Cabin Gas Plant in the US State of Wyoming. Elk as an operator and 100% owner has delivered without incident, on time and on budget while dealing with approximately 20 private landowners and Wyoming State Authorities, the Grieve Oil Pipeline refurbishment project and interconnection into the Enbridge sales, storage and shipping facility in Casper, Wyoming. Elk intends to further develop its commercial and technical communications strength and utilise it as a tool to attract other like-minded joint venture and business partners in the coming year.
For the benefit of all Elk stakeholders during the coming year we will adhere to and benchmark our expanded sustainability strategy and reporting against global oil industry guidelines for social and environmental issues as set down by IPIECA (International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association). Elk will also be utilising components of the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) guidelines to enhance our sustainability performance and disclosure for the benefit of all stakeholders.