The exploration and production of natural gas and oil within Europe has in the past been mainly focused on conventional resources that are readily available and relatively easy to develop. This type of fuel is typically found in sandstone, siltstone and limestone reservoirs. Conventional extraction enables oil or gas to flow readily into boreholes.
This report sets out the key environmental and health issues associated with the potential development and growth of high volume hydraulic fracturing in Europe. The study focused on the net incremental impacts and risks that could result from the possible growth in use of these techniques. The report addresses the impacts and risks over and above those already addressed in relation to the regulation of conventional gas exploration and extraction. The study distinguishes practices and activities associated with shale gas from conventional practices and activities that already take place in Europe, and identifies potential environmental issues that have not previously been encountered, or that could be expected to present more significant challenges.
The study reviewed available information on a range of potential risks and impacts of high volume hydraulic fracturing. The study concentrated on the direct impacts of hydraulic fracturing and associated activities such as transportation and wastewater management. The study did not address secondary or indirect impacts such as those associated with material extraction (stone, gravel, etc.) and energy use related to road, infrastructure and well pad construction.
The study has drawn mainly on experience from North America, where hydraulic fracturing has been increasingly widely practised since the early 2000s. The views of regulators, geological surveys and academics in Europe and North America were sought. Where possible, the results have been considered in the European regulatory and technical contexts.
The report includes a review of the efficiency and effectiveness of current EU legislation relating to shale gas exploration and production and the degree to which the current EU framework adequately covers the impacts and risks identified. It also includes a review of risk management measures.
Toxic chemicals, methane, Liquid hydrocarbons, hydraulic fracturing fluids