Concept

Concept

FracRisk’s aim of understanding, preventing and mitigating the potential environmental impacts and risks of shale gas exploration and exploitation starts with the collection and collation of important baseline data

FracRisk’s aim of understanding, preventing and mitigating the potential environmental impacts and risks of shale gas exploration and exploitation starts with the collection and collation of important baseline data, includes the generic characterisation of the reservoir source in situ, progresses through understanding important processes operating in the reservoir and overlying strata, develops the forward modelling of the flow and transport of a multiphase fluid with chemical compounds and methane gas from the injection location to obtain the spatial and temporal distribution of fracking chemical compounds and gas, and finally inputs into an assessment of the respective risks using dynamic monitoring tools on six key scenarios exemplifying key risks identified within the project. This information is captured in terms of the development of a knowledge base, the provision of scientific recommendations and an overview, with recommendations, of current EU legislation related to shale gas development.

Directing our approach to address these areas is a hydro-geo-chemical-mechanical facies concept whereby we consider the subsurface to be comprised of a number of facies subdivided according to their mechanical and hydrogeological properties and not necessarily their geology. Additionally the function of the facies is taken into account during the engineering operation, i.e., does it operate as a seal?, is it an aquifer?, or a reservoir rock?   This hydro-geo-chemical-mechanical facies approach allows the differences between these settings to be taken into account whilst still addressing holistically the issues of the environmental foot print of shale gas extraction. It also provides a framework for the evaluation of the effectiveness of the regulatory and legislative authority operative in that area and a rational for suggested refinement to come out of this project.  Importantly these areas will also be the focus of FracRisk’s legislative review and subsequent suggested refinements based on the scientific outcomes.

Five steps underlie FracRisk’s approach:

  1. Data collection to provide baseline information on the status quo of important environmental parameters from key sites within Europe and the USA,

  2. Evaluation of current environmental impact and risk assessment of typical shale gas exploration and exploitation techniques provides a project focus on high key risk events and high uncertainty events whereby further modelling can reduce the risk and uncertainty,

  3. Perform focussed research for improving our understanding of the storage, release and transport mechanisms that enables the reliable modelling of the involved driving forces,

  4. Evaluation of conceptual scenarios and numerical models able to match and predict the fluid flow (liquid and gas) behaviour, the mechanical behaviour and the geochemical behaviour of the shale gas reservoir and gas recovered during and after fracking. These focused exemplary scenarios, described later, use the data from step 1, are used to address the key risk and uncertainty events identified in step 2, integrate understanding from step 3 and provide a basis for recommendations in step 5,

  5. Provision of scientific recommendations and legislative advice for the further development and management of shale gas exploitation whilst minimising the environmental footprint.