Devon is fully prepared to respond to natural disasters, operational incidents, supply disruptions and other emergencies.
We take a corporate-level and all-hazards approach to emergency response and recovery that focuses on business continuity, starting with a corporate emergency management function that reports to Devon’s security department. This ensures we can manage a wide variety of incidents that could affect our employees, communities, assets, business and the environment.
Ensuring timely, effective response
Devon follows the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) National Incident Management System (NIMS), a common, nationwide approach to enable the whole community to work together to manage threats and hazards. In 2017, we provided in-house training on the NIMS Incident Command System (ICS) to about 600 employees throughout Devon to ensure a timely, effective response.
Each year, Devon conducts at least one functional, corporate-level training exercise and one full-scale exercise in a major operating area with community responders and simulated business interruptions. We also rotate aviation and digital security exercises every other year. Site-specific drills and annual OSHA-mandated drills in our field locations typically are conducted by Devon’s Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) group.
Our operating area exercise in 2017 was a simulated direct tornado strike that trapped employees in our Bridgeport field office building in North Texas. Law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, emergency management personnel and others from city, county and state agencies tested their skills with us. The scenario included a full search-and-rescue operation, triage and on-site treatment of employees. Several workers were transported to a local hospital, where medical staff tested their mass-casualty plan.
To ensure that our community partners benefit from these exercises, Devon follows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program. This allows us to provide community partners with documentation that validates their participation for federal funding and medical facility accreditation requirements.
Our training continued in early 2018 with an aviation exercise that tested our corporate incident command center, management team and response activation. We’ve also held full-scale exercises in Artesia, New Mexico, and Cuero, Texas, in 2018.
Devon advocates for strong emergency management capabilities at the federal level. The head of our emergency management team, a certified FEMA ICS instructor, leads the Emergency Management Working Group for the Oil and Natural Gas Subsector Coordinating Council associated with the U.S. Department of Energy.
Dealing with Hurricane Harvey
Our training paid off in 2017 when Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast, curtailing our Eagle Ford operations in south Texas. Devon activated the Incident Management Team (IMT) in our Cuero field office and the corporate incident command center in our Oklahoma City headquarters. From Aug. 23-Sept. 8, the IMT secured our facilities and assets to prevent oil spills and gas leaks in the event of flooding and coordinated the shut-in and protection of field equipment. The team also communicated across the organization with frequent updates on the production curtailment and transportation of oil, natural gas and related liquids to Gulf Coast refining and petrochemical terminals, and mobilized humanitarian assistance for our employees and neighbors in the affected areas. As a result of using the ICS process, Devon had no injuries and operations were only minimally impacted.
Learning from experience
After every exercise and real response, we hold briefings and write a report outlining areas for improvement, best practices and strengths. Corrective actions are incorporated into Devon’s EHS incident tracking system, assigned accountability and tracked to completion.
One of our emergency response practices that has proven to be effective, including during Hurricane Harvey, is involving finance and budgeting professionals on the IMT. Their expertise at tracking costs and inventory ensures Devon is fiscally responsible and doesn’t waste resources, even in emergencies. As a result of the Hurricane Harvey response, we’re focusing on better coordination with first responders, landowners, operators, news media and other stakeholders. We are including new Devon groups on the IMT whose expertise could be valuable during an incident and holding more exercises with community partners. Harvey also reinforced our commitment to clear, concise and timely communications and effective use of social media during an incident.
Sharing best practices, along with training, helps Devon continuously improve our ability to protect our workforce, assets, neighbors, business and corporate reputation in the event of incidents and emergencies.