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A risk assessment tool applied to the study of shale gas resources

mash up of a pic of the Zuma spill and a fracking risk formulaIn this paper a new, versatile method for assessing the overall risk of hydraulic fracturing in shale is presented. The method is supposed to predict the probability of adverse events of the technique in a specific location and has been tested in a shale field in Asturias (Spain). Its authors propose the application of this risk assessment tool to enhance decision making in an early stage of planned frac projects and to ameliorate public trust.

The implementation of a risk assessment tool with the capacity to evaluate the risks for health, safety and the environment (HSE) from extraction of non-conventional fossil fuel resources by the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technique can be a useful tool to boost development and progress of the technology and winning public trust and acceptance of this. At the early project stages, the lack of data related the selection of non-conventional gas deposits makes it difficult the use of existing approaches to risk assessment of fluids injected into geologic formations. The qualitative risk assessment tool developed in this work is based on the approach that shale gas exploitation risk is dependent on both the geologic site and the technological aspects. It follows from the Oldenburg’s ‘Screening and Ranking Framework (SRF)’ developed to evaluate potential geologic carbon dioxide (CO2) storage sites. These two global characteristics: (1) characteristics centered on the natural aspects of the site and (2) characteristics centered on the technological aspects of the Project, have been evaluated through user input of Property values, which define Attributes, which define the Characteristics. In order to carry out an individual evaluation of each of the characteristics and the elements of the model, the tool has been implemented in a spreadsheet. The proposed model has been applied to a site with potential for the exploitation of shale gas in Asturias (northwestern Spain) with tree different technological options to test the approach.

Veiguela M, Hurtado A Eguilior S, Recreo F, Roqueñi N, Loredo J
A risk assessment tool applied to the study of shale gas resources
Sci Total Environ. 2016 Jul 21. pii: S0048-9697(16)31467-X. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.07.021. [Epub ahead of print]

Illustration: Collage of a snapshot of the Zama City spill of 9.5 million litres of produced water from the oil production and the basic risk assessment formula by Veiguela et al. (2016).


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