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FracRisk Report Summary

Project ID: 636811
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FracRisk (Furthering the Knowledge Base For Reducing the Environmental Footprint of Shale Gas Development (FracRisk))

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The objectives of FracRisk are to develop a knowledge base for understanding, preventing and mitigating the potential impact of the exploration and exploitation through hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of significant shale gas reserves found throughout Europe, and to develop a decision support tool for risk quantification of the environmental impacts of the technology. The aim is to provide key scientific-based yet practical recommendations aimed at minimising the environmental footprint of shale gas extraction through effective planning and regulation, and also to address public concerns. This includes
-Identify and collect key baseline data for a number of sites in the EU and USA.
-Characterise main geological features, define key events and level of understanding of main processes occurring during the exploration and exploitation of shale gas, use a source-pathway-target conceptual approach and produce a Features Events Processes (FEP) risk register
-Evaluation of key risks and uncertainties
-Review standard industry modelling capabilities, develop scenario specific model capabilities
-Provide optimal monitoring and mitigation strategies of key events
Key to the successful completion of the project so far has been the excellent cooperation between the partners, and the ability to address and move forwards state of the art conceptual understanding of how to link complex multi-level modelling tools with a risk based platform and risk assessment approach.

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

The project web site,, provides access to all management aspects of the project, including data collection, curation and storage.
The seven main shale gas basins within Europe identified within this project have been characterised using a geomechanical facies conceptual approach. This has provided a framework for the parameterisation and description of the six fundamental modelling scenarios addressed.
Multiple data sets have been collected and made available to the project and to the public through the project web site.
FEP Database construction & Ranking: Development of a comprehensive Features, Events and Processes (FEP) database for hydraulic fracturing of shale gas.
Characterization of sub-scenarios: by using the FEP database (Deliverable D3.1), the modelling groups are able to create sub- scenarios for each of the 6 focused scenarios.
Beginning of the development of SG-RBCA computer platform.
Significant progress in improving existing capabilities for models to perform simulations on six focused scenarios. This includes a showcase towards the establishment of a work flow between the different partner to allow risk assessment.
A report on current geophysical monitoring techniques in hydrocarbon reservoirs relevant to shale gas has been completed.
Performed and published work on Transdimensional Monte Carlo electrical resistivity tomography
Partners have participated in several meetings with representatives of the European Parliament Committees, such as the ITRE (Industry, Energy and Research) Committee and the ENVI (Environment and Public Health) Committee. Partners have participated in meetings with representatives of member States departments of the Environment and of the Energy. Partners have participated in meetings with representatives of the industry of unconventional gas
The interim review process led to the identification of a number of geohazard risk legal themes that will be explored in the second half of the project
A series of public webinars describing different aspects of the project are available freely via the project web page.
Several press communications have been released to European Press. More than 154 hits have been published on the most important Spanish newspapers and two TVs (TVE and TV5) reproduced it. A complete list of the press impact has been included in milestone MS7.4.
31 Scientific publications (22 peer reviewed papers and 9 conference proceedings)

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)

Although the project is 18 months into a 36 month project, FracRisk has so far
1. Established the first neutral FEP database for hydraulic fracturing to illustrate the type of risks involved in HF operations
2. Based on the FEP ranking FracRisk developed a set of conceptual models addressing to most relevant problems occurring during subsurface hydraulic fracturing operations.
3. FracRisk Is providing new conceptual approaches, monitoring and numerical tools to quantify the risks involved. This includes
- extending the capabilities of our open-source numerical simulators process-oriented tools to illustrate the migration of possible hazardous materials along the flow path
- provision of a scientifically based platform to examine different scenarios (and also extreme situations / constellations of the fracturing process and the hydrogeological conditions) to generate confidence of the general public into the technology.
- provision of transparent, repeatable and testable assumptions and measurements with the aim of developing a generally agreed instrument for risk assessment (independent of fears and emotions).
-includes development of a new statistical models for the interpretation of hydrogeological properties exhibiting non-Gaussian behaviour,
-implementing of methodology to generate conditional realizations of environmental variables to be employed in numerical Monte Carlo analyses for environmental risk assessment.
-quantification of uncertainty in the presence of diverse competing model alternatives through the establishment of an approach to rank models and estimate the relative degree of likelihood of each model.
-development of a computationally efficient data-assimilation and uncertainty quantification framework, keyed to the characterization of dynamically evolving plumes of dissolved chemicals in heterogeneous aquifers.
4. FracRisk is testing mitigation strategies based on the sealing potential of slurries when flowed with CO2-rich brine.
5. FracRisk provided an overview of current state of the art geophysical monitoring in hydrocarbon reservoirs, and developed fully nonlinear imaging methods for near-surface resistivity imaging extending significantly deeper into the Earth (twice as far)
The results obtained so far by the FracRisk Research clearly indicate that risks arising from subsurface fracking operations can be handled according to already existing law and minimized to such an extent that impacts on nature and society are very unlikely to occur. The latter fact may in the longer term facilitate more fact based public and political discussion.

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