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SHale gas Exploration and Exploitation induced Risks

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SHEER (SHale gas Exploration and Exploitation induced Risks)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2018-04-30

Shale gas operations may have significant environmental impacts. The experience gained in the last tens of years, mostly in U.S. where tens of shale gas extraction sites have been implemented, indicates that the associated environmental impacts can be occasionally significant. Much concern exists among people and public administrators. However, the size of potential risks strongly depends on the site characteristics. The European site conditions are quite different than those in the U.S. The project undertook the challenge to work out the methodology to determine this potential, taking into account the site properties of the European shale gas deposits.
Shale gas operation through hydraulic fracturing and waste water injection, as other geo-engineering operations, can induce seismic activity or reactivate existing faults, can create fractures that connect the shale gas production zone to an overlying aquifer, allowing contamination of the groundwater. In addition, air and noise pollution represents another important environmental impact due to the emission of gaseous species and particulate matter associated with drilling operations.
SHEER developed methodologies and procedures to track and model fracture evolution around shale gas exploitation sites and a robust statistically based, multi-parameter methodology to assess environmental impacts and risks across the operational lifecycle of shale gas.
In Europe, many citizens are worried about possible impacts on the environment and the health deriving from exploitation and exploration of shale gas. The European Parliament PETI Committee received more than ten petitions some of which signed by some 15,000 citizens, most calling for a ban or a moratoria on shale gas and/or the use of hydraulic fracturing, on the basis of health and environmental concerns.
Main objectives of the project were: a) development and application of methodologies to assess environmental impacts and risks across the different operational phases; b) identification of plausible scenarios of events or chains of events related with shale gas development that may have an impact on the environment and/or the society; c) development of best practices for assessing and mitigating the environmental footprint of shale gas exploration and exploitation; d) guidelines for monitoring environmental impacts and for the management of natural risks induced by shale gas exploration and exploitation. The objectives have been reached through a probabilistic procedure for assessing short and long-term risks associated with: Groundwater contamination, Air pollution and Induced seismicity, that were monitored in Wysin (Poland) test site.
The work performed during the project was finalized to achieve the following objectives:

• completion of the SHEER database, homogenization of data from past case studies and from the Wysin monitoring site (WP2);
• monitoring of the three hazards (induced seismicity, groundwater quality, ambient air quality) after the fracking process(WP3);
• analysis of data collected from test site and from past cases(WP4, WP5, WP6);
• application of multi-hazard risk assessment in a shale gas virtual site (WP7);
• creation of monitoring guidelines of shale gas exploration and exploitation induced environmental impacts based on the Wysin test site (WP8);
• preparation of guidelines for risk management of shale gas exploration and exploitation(WP8).
The SHEER project reached all the mid-term and final objectives identified, including the development of methodologies to analyze data coming from the monitoring activity and the implementation of a multi-hazard risk assessment for all the operational phases characterizing the shale gas exploration and exploitation. Two deliverables (8.2 & 8.3) formalized the main outputs of the project, i.e. general guidelines for the monitoring and risk management that can be applied to other shale gas site. Project results have been disseminated via web through the website and dedicated social network pages and through a periodic newsletter. A infographic document have been created to share the main SHEER outcomes with the community, also via web.
The multiparametric monitoring underway in Wysin represents a major breakthrough for the study of the environmental impacts compared to almost all the exploration and exploitation running sites. Moreover, the lack of air quality data from shale gas in Europe has been eliminated.
SHEER provided information for the recommendation of best practices aimed at minimizing the negative impacts of shale gas exploitation and exploration. The development of several refined methods for the analysis of seismic data and of the pollutants in air and groundwater represents a significant enhancement of knowledge to be possibly used in other applications.
The project has identified four sectors that could be impacted from its activity:

• Science: The outputs of the SHEER project, are now integrated into the Thematic Core Service Anthropogenic Hazards (TCS-AH) platform of the EPOS project. These outputs include already existing events together with data from the Wysin test site, processing procedures of data interpretation and recommendation, and other documents describing the state of the art. This service may represents a contribution and a reduction of costs to following projects.

• Industry: The Advisory Board have included representatives from two companies, Cuadrilla an exploration and production company, and Blackpool Fylde and Wyre EDC. The AB included a representative from the Italian Ministry of Economic Development which regulates the energy market in Italy. It was an help to the dissemination of results to the stakeholders.

• Administrative bodies: the importance of their involvement has been understood by the consortium which was actively supported by the Polish Ministry of the Environment, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the Italian Civil Protection. The final recommendations on best practices take into account suggestions made by these institutions.

• General public: Local communities have a keen interest in the on-going exploration and monitoring activities in the vicinity of their homes and it is vital that they should be kept informed of the operations. Some activities with communities have been organizaed as, open meetings (also with pupils) and picninc in the test area (IGF-PAS). During the second annual meeting, one day meeting was devoted to a stakeholder engagement event. To maximize the impact, a dissemination plan was delivered. The objective was both to provide a communication strategy and to create ad hoc tools for the dissemination and integration of SHEER information both inside the Consortium and to the wider scientific, and external stakeholder communities. Stakeholder dissemination is carried out via newsletters, a leaflet translated into 11 languages and available on the SHEER website. This is assisted by social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Research Gate and Linked into reach the general public, academic and industrial sectors.
SHEER promotes sharing data, knowledge and research activities freely between all relevant parties including from outside of the project