A new review of fracking published by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society in the UK provides a summary of relevant findings and makes detailed recommendations that may be of value to other jurisdictions and exploration companies, such as those in Canada, that are considering exploiting shale gas resources.
The report finds that hydraulic fracturing is not completely risk-free and that “Strong regulation and robust monitoring systems must be put in place and best practice strictly enforced if the Government is to give the go-ahead to further exploration.”
The report’s recommendations include:
- Strengthening the UK’s regulators, including providing additional resources as needed.
- Allocating lead responsibility for regulation of shale gas extraction to a single regulator;
- Strengthening the system of well inspections to ensure that well designs are considered not only from a health and safety perspective, but also from an environmental perspective;
- Undertaking appropriate well integrity tests as standard practice;
- Mandating and enforcing Environmental Risk Assessments for all shale gas operations, which should be submitted to the regulators for scrutiny;
- Ensuring robust monitoring of methane in groundwater, seismicity and methane leakages before, during and after hydraulic fracturing;
- Establishing integrated management processes to ensure water is used sustainably and to minimise wastes.
Gallondaily commends the report for its readibility and for its approach to providing information for both non-technical and technical audiences.
The report is available at http://www.raeng.org.uk/news/releases/shownews.htm?NewsID=771