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

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Geological Survey
Department Name: Groundwater

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. We have secured the representation of XXX on our PAB.
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 Baseline groundwater quality studies 
Organisation Environment Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Initiation of programme of assessment of groundwater quality in areas of potential hydrocarbon development to establish baseline conditions and develop a methodology for application in other areas. The contribution has involved the application of hydrogeological and geochemical expertise in project design, implementation of fieldwork by specialist monitoring staff and analysis of samples by BGS and NIGL laboratories.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise on policy implications and regulatory needs for research and outcomes
Impact None yet
Start Year 2019
 
Description Equipt4Risk project 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint projects and initiatives and inter-disciplinary environmental science
Collaborator Contribution Joint projects and initiatives and inter-disciplinary environmental science
Impact Various papers and joint research activities with outputs listed on the Equipt4Risk project entry
Start Year 2019
 
Description 2 x Integration events 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Two Programme integration events - one on induced seismicity and the second on the role of shale gas in achieving net zero
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description Annual Science Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact NERC/ESRC UH Programme annual meeting with international stakeholder advisory board
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Contribution to Erasmus+ CPD series 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
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
 
Description Science Media Centre Press Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Press briefing organised by the Science Media Centre (SMC) to brief national media outlets on the environmental risks associated with shale gas operations (including fracking) and the impacts observed as a result of operations in Lancashire and North Yorkshire. Rob Ward (PI) and Brian Baptie (Co-I) both gave briefings and outlined the objectives of the NERC/ESRC funded project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019