Challenge 1: Assessing and Monitoring the UK Shale Gas Landscape (UKSGL)

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Natural Sciences & Env Sciences

Abstract

Gas (and oil) can be extracted from shale using a process known as hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking'. This form of hydrocarbon extraction has yet to be fully deployed in the UK. The 'shale gas landscape' (SGL) in the UK is a complex set of social and technical factors that will change over the coming years as permission is sought for wells to be drilled and hydraulically fractured. When drilling and fracking takes place, we will learn whether gas recovery is economically viable and can be carried out in a socially acceptable way. Furthermore, our knowledge of the potential environmental impacts associated with the fracking process will be enhanced.

The key aim of this project, 'Assessing and Monitoring the UK Shale Gas Landscape' (UKSGL) is to create a cross-cutting consortium, which will work closely with researchers from the other challenges to produce a series of published review papers summarising up to date knowledge of this evolving complex landscape. In addition, the project will develop a conceptual model, incorporating comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the SGL, enabling predictions about the future of the UKSGL and allowing the testing of specific scenarios as directed by Programme Advisory Board members. Key to the success of this project will be delivering excellence with impact - ensuring that the project maximises benefit through open and transparent engagement with key stakeholders to communicate social, environmental and geo science data and findings. The project will harness a range of information sharing tools and technologies to actively engage with stakeholders, including a UKSGL website; publication of open-access research papers; organisation of an annual conference, overseen by an experienced Knowledge Broker.

Planned Impact

We have identified the following groups of beneficiaries: policy makers; regulators; operators; environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs); and professional organisations. Our project's governance structure has been established to allow a representative from the key beneficiaries, along with the Management Team, to provide direction through involvement on the Programme Advisory Board (PAB). The identified beneficiaries and the value and impact they will gain is detailed below.
1. Policy makers and regulators at a national level. We have secured representation from the Shale Gas team at BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) on the PAB. Additionally, there will be representation on the PAB of key regulation organisations, namely, the Environment Agency and Public Health England. We aim to collaborate with other regulation organisations, such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) and the Mineral Planning Authority through their connections with the Challenge 2-5 research teams.
2. Operators. The deliverables of this project will influence and change existing good practice guidance and Best Available Techniques (BAT) for shale gas extraction. We will work with the UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) representative body to ensure an open dialogue with all onshore operators. We will endeavour to collaborate directly with operators, including Third Energy and Ineos through our wider stakeholder engagement activities.
3. Environmental NGOs. There is significant concern about the potential environmental impacts associated with fracking amongst several conservation charities. This project will engage with this group of stakeholders so that they can benefit from and contribute to our outputs and deliverables.
4. Professional organisations, such as chartered institutes and society bodies will also benefit from data and information to update their membership and for inclusion in briefing notes and position statements.
5. Additional stakeholders, who we will engage with include local government (e.g. planning officers; planning committee) and local communities and members of the public from both sides of the shale gas debate. We will provide up to date, impartial and easily accessible information through our project webpage. As part of our Pathways to Impact, we have planned a range of knowledge exchange activities to facilitate two-way discussions between the project team and the stakeholders. One example is the formation of a Stakeholder Group (SG) to engage with a broader cross section of activists, journalists and politicians. The composition of the SG and Terms of Reference will be agreed by the PAB at their inaugural meeting.

We will implement a range of techniques, methods and activities as part of the UKSGL project to engage with key stakeholders to ensure maximum benefit and impact. Information dissemination and knowledge exchange activities will include:
- development of a UKSGL website, which will be used to publish review papers, video summaries and updates from the other challenges;
- provision of open-access publications;
- use of social media platforms for raising awareness of important research results;
- development of an open-access UKSGL model, which can be updated with peer-reviewed data and information during the project;
- organisation of an annual conference to aid collaboration with all other challenges; and
- stakeholder workshops will take place on an annual basis to engage with a broader cross section of activists, journalists and politicians.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Review panel members for National Audit Office report
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Fracking-for-shale-gas-in-England.pdf
 
Description Funding for Business Engagement Activities
Amount £1,300 (GBP)
Organisation Newcastle University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2019 
End 05/2020
 
Description Annual Science Meeting- UKUH 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact An Annual Science Meeting for UKUH researchers and academics to showcase their research to stakeholders, programme advisers and funders.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.ukuh.org/events/
 
Description Dippy on Tour 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The ambition of 'The Earth Elevator: visualising the resources under our feet' is to deliver two-way engagement with visitors to the Great North Museum:Hancock to help them better understand the resources of the subsurface. Through a projected animation, visitors will travel through the subsurface in geological time encountering man-made structures and natural resources along their way. Starting at the near-surface, we will show structures and activities including pipes, sewers, the Metro line, aquifers, landfills, opencast coal extraction, and where we have mined for building materials. Then we will travel through geological time illustrating significant events and activities along the way, including evolution of humans, extinction of dinosaurs, first mammals and dinosaurs, location of fossils, location of deep geothermal energy, depth of conventional oil and gas extraction, deepest borehole, and depth of shale gas extraction. Importantly, the animation will be to scale - giving the audience a unique experience of travelling to a depth 2,000m below their feet. Furthermore, these depths and timescales will be put into context to provide local interest, e.g. how many Grey's Monuments would it take to reach a fracking site.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://youtu.be/MZk8ojY6PlM
 
Description Erasmus+ CPD 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Richard Davies, Mike Bradshaw and Rob Ward contributed to the delivery of a Continuing Professional Development series funded by Erasmus+. The first event focused on regulation and policy of shale gas extraction in the UK and the second on environmental and health impacts.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.refine.org.uk/events/
 
Description Integration Events 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The UKUH academics and researchers have come together with stakeholders to discuss key parts of the UK shale gas landscape on two occasions to date. The first event was held to discuss the unknowns around seismicity induced by hydraulic fracturing; the second was around the role of gas in the meeting the UKs Net Zero targets.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL http://www.ukuh.org/events/integrationevent-jan2020/
 
Description Interview on regional radio 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Richard Davies discusses fracking-triggered earthquakes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://bbc.in/2OfEQeh
 
Description Meeting with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A meeting was held with policy advisers at BEIS to discuss the progress of the UKUH programme and hear their feedback.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Programme Advisory Board meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 16 members made up of academics, environmental NGOs, professional organisations and industry met to hear about the progress of the Unconventional Hydrocarbons in the UK Energy System Programme. They were able to contribute with their expertise to influence the direction of the programme, specifically with regards to the next programme event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Quotation in article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Fracking Company Cuadrilla Breached Environmental Regulations Seven Times in 10 Months - The article quotes Professor Davies
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://bit.ly/2DelF3N
 
Description Radio interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Richard Davies talks about the impact of fracking, following a 1.1 magnitude tremor at the exploration site in Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, Lancashire.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://bbc.in/2JrBUKW
 
Description World service radio interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Richard Davies discusses the wider economic and environmental impact of fracking.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://bbc.in/2OpuLR0
 
Description quoted in news article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Richard Davies is quoted in this article about fracking-triggered microquakes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://bit.ly/2OvPI7U