Air Quality, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction and Energy Efficiency

We are committed to reducing emissions in all facets of our operations and utilizing innovative fuel product solutions whenever possible. For many years, we have invested in the deployment of lower-emissions engines and technology in the oilfield, and demand for these emission-reducing engines and technology has increased in recent years. To help our customers satisfy their own fuel reduction and emissions reduction goals, as well as reduce fuel usage and emissions from our own operations, we plan to continue making these investments.

In the short-term, we work to meet customer demands through an increase in our usage of our existing lower emissions and alternative fuel equipment, such as dual-fuel equipment and rich-burn natural gas engines (in place of traditional diesel-only equipment). In the long-term, we will endeavor to meet these demands by continuing our development of innovative, lower-emissions technology (such as battery power hybrid energy management systems and technology enabling the use of utility electrical power in our operations) and redesigning our equipment to maximize efficiency (such as through the development of emission-reducing automation, remote operations and control systems and energy management software).

Our operations include the use of natural gas engines, dual-fuel equipment, and various emission reduction systems. We utilize equipment that runs on a variety of fuels to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact. An increasing portion of our contract drilling fleet uses natural gas-only engines and dual-fuel engines, and an increasing portion of our pressure pumping fleet uses dual-fuel engines.

Emissions Reduction Programs And Innovations

Dual-Fuel Engines

With dual-fuel engines, we can offer pressure pumping and contract drilling services with a fuel mixture of up to 70 percent natural gas. Substitution of cleaner-burning natural gas in place of diesel fuel is significantly better from an environmental perspective, as natural gas generates less carbon monoxide than diesel fuel, as well as less nitrogen oxide (NOx), enabling our engines to burn cleaner and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which improves air quality.

Within our pressure pumping business, a number of our spreads are currently dual-fuel capable. Our contract drilling business maintains approximately 60 dual-fuel rig power systems. Our dual-fuel engines’ operational successes have been recognized in an article in E&P Magazine, an industry publication.

graph showing fuel Patteron has saved over the years
Estimated diesel fuel reduction from use of dual-fuel engines by pressure pumping business

Natural Gas Engines

We were the first contract driller to use GE’s Waukesha natural gas engines on a drilling rig. Our rich-burn natural gas engines, which do not require the use of diesel fuel, allow our drilling rigs to run 100 percent on natural gas. The substitution of natural gas in place of diesel fuel results in a variety of environmental benefits, including emissions reduction. These natural gas systems have the ability to utilize the local natural gas infrastructure that is often available in our working areas, reducing the need for diesel fuel transportation and consumption. These dedicated natural gas engines are also equipped with a three-way catalyst to significantly reduce NOx emissions. Third-party field tests on dedicated natural gas drilling rigs have shown emissions of NOx as low as 0.01 g/hp-hr. Our contract drilling business has 11 dedicated natural gas rig power systems.

Ecocell™ Energy Storage System

Our contract drilling business is expanding the use of lithium battery technology in our rig fleet through our proprietary EcoCell™ technology. EcoCell™ is an energy management system for drilling rigs that uses lithium batteries to store and dispense energy for use in drilling operations. This system stores energy in lithium batteries at times when demand from operations is lower than the rig’s generator capacity and provides supplemental power back to the rig when demand exceeds the rig’s generator capacity. This functionality allows us to maintain a steady and optimized load on the rig’s generators, keeping these generators running in the most efficient range where they produce the lowest emissions levels and best fuel economy.

EcoCell™ is currently deployed at one of our drilling rigs, we have another EcoCell™ unit that we expect will be deployed in the middle of this year, and based on customer feedback, we have ordered batteries to build additional units in 2021.

eco-cell in the middle of a land rig

Genassist™ Load-Dependent Starting and Stopping

Our contract drilling business has recently developed rig control systems with Load-Dependent Starting and Stopping, which we refer to as GenAssist™. GenAssist™ allows for automatic shut-down of engines when they have been running at low load levels for extended periods of time, and automatic start-up of additional engines when the power capacity levels of engines that are currently operating are exceeded. This feature reduces the amount of time that our engines run at inefficient power levels, thus reducing unnecessary emissions. GenAssist™ has been deployed on several of our drilling rigs, and we expect to increase deployment based on customer feedback.

Utility Electric Power for Drilling Rigs

Through our Current Power business, we provide in-house electrical engineering, control system automation and installation services to connect drilling rigs to utility electrical lines. This capability enables our customers to use utility power, instead of natural gas or diesel fuel, to power their drilling operations. Using utility power is an optimal power solution on our drilling rigs as it minimizes emission impacts at the wellsite. We have recently used this technology to connect rigs to utility power in the Permian and Mid-Con basins.

Automation and Remote Operation Systems

Our businesses have developed, and continue to develop, advanced automation and remote operation systems and software. These systems and software allow for increasing automation and remote monitoring of wellsite operations. Many of the locations at which we provide operations are located a long distance from our and our customers’ facilities, resulting in a need for significant vehicular travel. By improving automation and remote operation capabilities, we can reduce unnecessary vehicular travel to the wellsite by our personnel, thus reducing carbon emissions. The increased use of automation systems and remote monitoring can also reduce the number of personnel at the wellsite, which generally leads to fewer safety incidents.

One example of these efforts is our recent commercialization of our remote measurement-while-drilling (MWD) services. We provided remote MWD services on 69 well sites during 2020. Our remote MWD services typically result in a 50% reduction of our MWD personnel at the well site, and in certain instances, have enabled us to perform services without any MWD personnel at the well site.

Patterson team working in the office together

Other Emissions Reduction Efforts

Tier 4 Fracturing Spreads

Our Tier 4 compliant engines reduce harmful exhaust gases from diesel powered equipment, and the use of these engines results in significant reductions in emissions relative to previous-generation engines. We design our drilling and pressure pumping fleets to be 100 percent compliant with all current EPA air emissions requirements. Additionally, we are sensitive to and supportive of customer climate and emissions-related targets, scenarios and goals.

Our pressure pumping business helps to meet our customers’ GHG emission goals by utilizing our dual-fuel and Tier 4 compliant fracturing spreads. 22% of our active pressure pumping fleet is made up of Tier 4 engines, and 23.4% of our active non-road pressure pumping equipment is made up of Tier 4 engines.

Particulates (Dust) Control

Our pressure pumping business actively works with its service partners to develop, test and implement new technologies to reduce particulates and dust emissions on location. We currently operate with a combination of active (ventilation systems) and passive (tenting and choked flow) technologies that significantly reduce dust concentrations. We routinely monitor all technologies in use to measure the amount of reduction attained and continually work to reduce emissions and exposures.

Energy Efficiency

Vehicle and Engine Idle Time

In our pressure pumping business, we monitor the idling times of a variety of vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, to reduce emissions and fuel usage. Approximately 800 vehicles are currently monitored in this program.

Efficient Use of Energy

We seek to employ energy efficient technologies and reduce energy usage throughout our facilities. Completed and ongoing initiatives include:

  • Installing LED lighting on all new and refurbished drilling rigs.
  • Upgrading lighting in warehouses and shops.
  • Installing motion detection systems that automatically turn off lighting when not in use.
  • Consolidating our facility footprint.
  2020 (in gigajoules, rounded)
Fuel Consumption (Off-Road)  
Diesel (1)  
Contract Drilling, estimated (2) 5,566,000
Pressure Pumping, estimated (3) 2,551,000
Fuel Consumption (On-Road) (4)  
Diesel 107,000
Gasoline 108,000
Electricity Consumption, estimated (5) 70,000


1. We present off-road fuel consumption for our contract drilling and pressure pumping businesses, as those are our two largest businesses(together constituting approximately 90% of our 2020 revenues), and we believe that the off-road consumption of fuel by these two businesses comprises substantially all of our consolidated off-road fuel consumption.
2. Off-road fuel consumed by our equipment during drilling activities is purchased and controlled by our customers, and they do not provide us the actual levels of fuel consumption (nor the type of fuel used). Accordingly, the fuel data above is based on estimates, which were derived by measuring engine loads and power output for a subset of our drilling operations, calculating related fuel consumption based on published engine parameters, and extrapolating that data to cover the entirety of our annual drilling operations. We are working to expand our use of data-gathering sensors to improve the quality of our reported fuel consumption data.
3. Off-road fuel consumed by our equipment during pressure pumping is usually purchased and controlled by our customers, in which case they do not provide us the actual levels of fuel consumption (nor the type of fuel used). Accordingly, the fuel data above is based on estimates, which were derived by measuring engine loads for all active engines during the year and calculating fuel consumption based on published engine parameters. We are working to expand our use of data-gathering sensors to improve the quality of our reported fuel consumption data.
4. Total consumption for all Company-owned, on-road vehicles.
5. Electricity consumption data is an estimate of the total electricity usage at our Company-owned or leased facilities. We currently have the ability to track actual electricity usage at 95% of our facilities. Accordingly, our total usage presented above includes actual usage data for those tracked facilities, and estimated electricity usage for the remaining facilities. We are working to expand our electricity usage tracking to cover all of our facilities.