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Subsurface Evaluation of Carbon capture and storage and Unconventional Risk

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SECURe (Subsurface Evaluation of Carbon capture and storage and Unconventional Risk)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

Subsurface Evaluation of CCS and Unconventional Risks (SECURe) will gather unbiased, impartial scientific evidence for risk mitigation and monitoring for environmental protection to underpin subsurface geoenergy development. The main outputs of SECURe will comprise recommendations for best practice for unconventional hydrocarbon production and geological CO2 storage. The project is at an early stage, beginning June 2018.
The project will develop monitoring and mitigation strategies for the full geoenergy project lifecycle; by assessing plausible hazards and monitoring associated environmental risks. This will be achieved through a program of experimental research and advanced technology development that will be demonstrated at commercial and research facilities to formulate best practice. We will meet stakeholder needs; from the design of monitoring and mitigation strategies relevant to operators and regulators, to developing communication strategies to provide a greater level of understanding of the potential impacts.
The SECURe partnership comprises major research and commercial organisations from countries that host shale gas and CCS industries at different stages of operation (from permitted to closed). We will form a durable international partnership with non-European groups; providing international access to study sites, creating links between projects and increasing our collective capability through exchange of scientific staff.

The SECURe project has the following specific objectives:
1. To produce a risk assessment framework for assessing the hazards and likelihoods of specific risks that relate to the protection of the environment in CO2 storage and shale gas operations.
2. To demonstrate best practice in establishing baseline conditions for subsurface geoenergy operations by working across a network of both commercial, pilot and research-scale sites in Europe and internationally, underpinned by laboratory measurements and model up-scaling to the field scale.
3. To develop new technologies to improve the detection and monitoring of environmental impacts related to geoenergy projects.
4. To investigate new methods for remediating potential environmental impacts of geoenergy projects specifically to reduce leakage from wells or naturally occurring permeable pathways.
5. To develop best practice guidelines for the shale gas and CO2 storage industries specifically in environmental baseline assessment and monitoring; the intention is that these will not unduly delay the development of new technologies or innovations.
6. To understand the needs of a range of stakeholders, including local communities, and to engage them through the development of appropriate communication strategies, including participatory monitoring and through the education of early-career researchers.
7. To leverage best practice through collaboration with leading groups in the USA, Canada and Australia.
Since June 2018, selected highlights of research completed include:
• 2 Completion of numerous field campaigns for groundwater, reservoir brines, atmosphere and soil-gas in the EU and North America;
• Risk assessment framework developed for monitoring and communication of risks associated with shale gas and CCS;
• Initiation of laboratory experiments simulating effect of stress on borehole completions;
• Workflows for modelling fault reactivation completed;
• 4 Drone-based gas-monitoring undertaken at field trials;
• Seismic network established and initial data under analysis;
• Dissemination activities include workshops, conference presentations, presentations to school children
• Microbrial communities in the subsurface are being quantified
• 5 Initiation of experiments examining the different approaches to near and far-well leakage remediation, and seismicity prediction and remediation;
• Methods developed for partipatory monitoring strategies;
• Valuable information on societal concerns and regulatory approaches gained from a series of workshops and a visit by the project team to USA and Canada.
These activities will feed in to the development of good-practice recommendations to mitigate risks associated with shale gas and CCS development in the EU.
SECURe’s ambition is to develop scientifically robust and impartial recommendations on environmental monitoring and the establishment of baseline conditions that will be widely taken up as best practice throughout the industry in Europe. Whilst in CO2 storage much has been developed before, pan-EU recommendations remain a significant gap for unconventional hydrocarbon production. SECURe will build on previous work, discussed below, in CO2 storage and shale gas to ensure pragmatic and fit-for-purpose recommendations.
This programme of work will extend beyond the current state-of-the-art by deploying monitoring techniques at the field sites listed above (both focussed on shale exploration and CCS reservoir characterisation). These sites will generate a robust dataset, the interpretations of which will allow for a series of recommendations and best practice to be compiled. The active participation of industry and overseas experts will ensure that the experimental program addresses impacts that are relevant and realistic to Europe and elsewhere.
We will demonstrate a responsible work ethic through developing, testing and validating different approaches for participatory monitoring. Participatory monitoring has the potential to combine different models of collaboration between project initiators and (local) stakeholders4: co-knowing, co-thinking, co- working and co-deciding. These models represent the relation between the initiator(s) of the project communication and the target groups of communication efforts, mainly (local) stakeholders. Through participatory monitoring (local) stakeholders can at least co-think, and for some parts, also co-work and co- decide on the development of monitoring networks and communication about the outcomes of the monitoring program. As such, the level of understanding at (local) stakeholders can be increased, laying the groundwork for potential public acceptance for the envisaged project and technology.
Image of SECURe website landing page
Image showing concept of overall SECURe project