Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SHEER Report Summary

Project ID: 640896
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SHEER (SHale gas Exploration and Exploitation induced Risks)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

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, indicate that the associated environmental impacts can be occasionally significant. Consequently much concern exists among people and public administrators. However, the size of this potential depends strongly on the site characteristics. The European site conditions are quite different than those in the U.S. The project undertakes the challenge to work out the methodology to determine this potential, conditional upon 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 represent another important environmental impact due to the emission of gaseous species and particulate matter associated with drilling operations.
An integrated evaluation of the risk to the environment from shale gas operation requires to assess quantitatively possible scenarios of events driving to environmental impacts. Risk factors in shale gas operations fall in a number of categories including both short-term and long-term impacts, risks from natural events, industrial accidents, human factors, and cumulative impacts. Short-term impacts are mainly associated with the gas well construction and development process itself, and might include surface and ground water contamination from leaks or spills, air pollution from dust, vapours, and combustion products, and detrimental effects on nearby terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems from the activity, noise lights, dust, sediment, traffic, etc. Long-term impacts may come from the presence of the gas well and the well pad/road/pipeline on the landscape.
In Europe, many citizens are worried about possible impacts on environment and 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.
The project main objective is to develop best practices for assessing and mitigating the environmental footprint of shale gas exploration and exploitation.
SHEER is developing a probabilistic procedure for assessing short and long-term risks associated with environmental risks, methodologies and procedures to track and model fracture evolution around shale gas exploitation sites and a robust statistically based, multi-parameter methodology to assess impacts and risks across the operational lifecycle of shale gas.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

To reach the main scope of the project i.e. the assessment of the environmental impacts connected with the exploration and exploitation of shale gas, following activities have been undertaken:
• design, definition and creation of the database, a comprehensive database consisting of seismicity data, the state of groundwater and atmospheric conditions and operational data collected from shale gas sites during the project and archived from past case studies (WP2);
• development of a monitoring execution plan agreed with the PGNiG operator (WP3);
• arrangement of the Polish test site for the collection of a complete suite of operational, geomechanical, seismic, groundwater and atmospheric chemistry data from planned hydraulic fracturing activity (WP3);
• monitoring of the three hazards (induced seismicity, groundwater quality, ambient air quality) before, during and after the fracking process (WP3, WP4, WP5, WP6);
• application of the developed methodologies to new data collected by the monitoring activities and to data gathered from past case studies to image fracture processes and fluid transfers and to assess seismic, groundwater and air pollution, hazards (WP4, WP5, WP6);
• 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 (WP7);
• creation and implementation of a dissemination plan (WP8).
All the mid-term objectives of the project have been successfully achieved.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

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 is being eliminated.
SHEER will provide information for the recommendation of best practises 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 which will be also possible to use in other applications.
The project has identified four sectors that could be impacted from its activity:
• Science: The outputs of the SHEER project, will be integrated into the EPOS project platform. These outputs will 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. Data will be available after 30th April 2018.
• Industry: TheAdvisory Board includes representatives from two companies, Cuadrilla an exploration and production company, and Blackpool Fylde and Wyre EDC. The AB includes a representative from the Italian Ministry of Economic Development which regulates the energy market in Italy.
• Administrative bodies: the consortium is 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 practises will 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. Scientists from IGF-PAS organized an open meeting close to the test site area. IGF-PAS also held a scientific picnic in test site area. The issues surrounding potential environmental hazards of shale gas exploration and methods of monitoring and mitigation were presented to pupils of schools and members of the public. During the second annual meeting, there will be one day of 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.

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