The Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) said Monday that it has issued its fourth certification to EQT Corp., confirming that the company’s Appalachian Basin operations are in compliance with its 15 performance standards for oil and natural gas development in the region.

EQT’s certification is now valid for two years. It demonstrates that the company’s operations either meet or exceed a set standards that were established by state regulators and industry participants when the CSSD was formed.

“EQT Corp. is now the fourth major operator in the Appalachian Basin to demonstrate it meets CSSD’s 15 performance standards,” said Executive Director Susan LeGros. “In each of these 15 areas, EQT’S Appalachian Basin operations meet or exceed state and federal air and water management regulatory requirements. EQT’s certification, and the other operators who have qualified for certification and continue to maintain conformance to CSSD’s standards, reinforces the importance and value of responsible voluntary actions and transparency that goes beyond simple compliance.”

During the two-year certification, CSSD continually monitors the companies for compliance and they are subject to at least one assurance audit to make sure compliance with the standards is maintained. The CSSD, for example, requires green completion equipment and more efficient flaring systems.

The evaluation and verification process for EQT was conducted by the audit firm Bureau Veritas. The firm conducted a pre-audit to determine if the company was prepared for the process. In July 2015, the full-scale audit began with document reviews, staff interviews and field inspections. Bureau Veritas visited 18 of the company’s active operating sites in the region.

After the audit was completed, a report was sent to CSSD, whose certification committee determined eligibility. None of the committee members were affiliated with the company.

EQT has been operating in the basin for more than 125 years. It owns 3.4 million gross acres, including 630,000 in the Marcellus Shale. It produced 603.1 Bcfe in 2015 and was Pennsylvania’s fifth largest gas producer last year (see Shale Daily, Feb. 22; Feb. 4).

Consol Energy Inc. was certified by the CSSD in April 2015 just after Royal Dutch Shell plc’s operations were fully certified in March 2015 (see Shale Daily, April 7, 2015; March 18, 2015). Chevron Appalachia LLC was the first to be certified by the center in September 2014 (see Shale Daily, Sept. 18, 2014). CSSD also said Tuesday that all three of those companies had successfully completed assurance audits to maintain their certifications.

The CSSD was established in early 2013 (see Shale Daily, March 25, 2013). It brought together environmental organizations and energy companies to ensure that shale gas resources are safely developed in the basin. Industry participants include Chevron, Consol, Shell and EQT. It’s unclear if the CSSD is working to certify any non-participating producers. The center does not comment about pending applications until they are approved and announced.

The Clean Air Task Force, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council are also among the center’s partners.