European project puts best practice at the heart of subsurface energy projects

A three-year international project focusing on best practice for developers engaged in subsurface energy projects is under way with dedicated funding from the European Union.

The SECURe project (Subsurface Evaluation of CCS and Unconventional Risks), involves 16 research partners from seven European countries and will gather unbiased, impartial scientific evidence relating to monitoring the environment and mitigating risk for unconventional hydrocarbon production and geological CO2 storage.

Although the two technologies have different applications and end results, they share some similarities in approach and potential environmental impacts – induced seismicity and leakage from facilities into groundwater and the atmosphere – which require safe and monitored deployment.

The €9-million study is being funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and will develop best practice guidelines on assessing risk, undertaking monitoring and mitigating any potential impacts. It will also provide guidance on effective communications strategies with different stakeholder groups to provide a greater level of understanding of both subsurface technologies.

The scientists involved will collaborate with leading groups in the USA, Canada and Australia, and the final results will be of use to a variety of stakeholders, from project operators and regulators to policy makers and the wider public.

The SECURe partnership is headed by the UK’s British Geological Survey (BGS) and includes major research and commercial organisations from Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and United Kingdom.

Ed Hough of BGS, who co-ordinates the SECURe consortium, said: “SECURe is a great opportunity to develop new ways to monitor the potential impacts of shale gas and CCS technologies, including novel approaches to seismic, groundwater and atmospheric monitoring, and establishing where industries can learn from one another.”

Jonathan Pearce, also of BGS, who is leading on the development of effective communications strategies, added: “New ways of communicating effective messages derived from the research will also be developed, using advice and experiences from sites in north America and Australia.”

(Photo: BGS@UKRI)