An increase in shale gas extraction in North America and the possibility of similar operations in Europe have raised public concern over potential environmental impacts. At the same time, carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been identified as a necessary part of climate action worldwide. Both operations utilise geological formations deep below ground.
This work package supports the development of commercial CCS and responsible exploitation of Europe’s shale gas reserves by testing and recommending strategies for engaging with stakeholders. This includes the dissemination of information to non-technical audiences, such as policymakers and citizens. It will also explore opportunities for participative monitoring of projects as an aspect of public engagement.
Our approach will draw together best-practice recommendations from the other work packages and share these with targeted groups of stakeholders, including project developers, policy makers, legislators and regulators, industry and early career researchers.
SECURe has gathered unbiased, impartial scientific evidence for risk mitigation and monitoring for environmental protection to support subsurface geoenergy development. Our main research outputs underpin recommendations which we have collated below as nine factsheets.
The risk framework developed by SECURe identified four principal hazards associated with geological carbon dioxide (CO2) storage (carbon capture and storage - CCS), and five associated with unconventional hydrocarbons extraction (UHE).
Our recommendations seek to provide a pragmatic and reasonable response to these concerns: they can be used to inform site development and management strategies from the perspective of multiple stakeholders (operators, regulators, legislators and the general public). Each headline recommendation is underpinned by project technical reports, available here.
The project employed the "Bow Tie" risk assessment approach, which identifies a series of barriers that prevent a principal hazard (‘top event’) from occurring. Each factsheet addresses a single top event which can occur if control of a hazard is lost, and provides recommendations to help mitigate them.
The top events were identified through a literature review of hazards, threats, consequences and barriers associated with CO2 storage. The recommendations can be considered to inform preventative (e.g. a limit on operations) or mitigative (e.g. a technical measure that limits the chain of consequence arising from the top event) strategies for risk management.
Participatory monitoring formed a key part of SECURe’s research. The value of participatory monitoring approaches was captured and embedded within each Bow Tie risk assessment. Because participatory monitoring is relevant to the management of many aspects of the top events, we have created an overview Participatory Monitoring Factsheet - detailing our recommendations in this area.
Detailed recognition of the storage reservoir and confinement needs to be established, including identification of all existing faults in the possible injection operations’ influenced zone (see SECURe reports D3.7 and D3.8). A cost-effective and timely environmental baseline should always be established prior to any CCS activities commencing, supported by early site appraisals. Monitoring programmes demonstrate to stakeholders that sites are evolving as expected, or deviations in behaviour can identify anomalies.
Methodologies that can attribute the source of CO2 will also be needed. The baseline defines the environmental conditions prior to CCS activities and needs to account for natural and external anthropogenic temporal variation. Therefore, the use of continuous sampling methodologies for at least one year prior to the start of operations is recommended (D3.6).
In onshore storage operations, the sampling network for environmental baseline monitoring, ongoing monitoring throughout operation and post-operation monitoring should ensure that sampling is undertaken in all major hydrogeological units at suitable depths to protect groundwater from potential contamination. Existing relevant boreholes should be utilised and bespoke boreholes drilled where necessary.
Click on the buttons below to access each factsheet.