Det Norske Veritas (DNV), a global provider of risk management services, has created an initial Recommended Practice for the life cycle of shale gas extraction, based on risk management principles. The document, developed following consultation with European and US regulators, oil and gas companies, NGOs and other industry bodies, is intended to form the basis for a global standard for safe and sustainable shale gas extraction.
DNV notes that the shale gas industry is at the center of political debates across Europe and public opinion is polarized. “There is great public concern about the consequences of shale gas operations. Our recommended practice will contribute to increase the trust and confidence among the general public by implementing operational best practices and making the industry document how its activities are being executed in a safe and responsible manner,” said Remi Eriksen, CEO of DNV Maritime and Oil & Gas in a news release.
The Recommended Practice focuses on: management systems; safety, health, and the environment; well integrity; management of water and energy; infrastructure and logistics; public engagement; stakeholder communication; and permits.
While the full Recommended Practice is not yet posted, a summary says that DNV recommends:
- Extensive baseline surveys to be conducted prior to the commencement of any shale gas activities, and monitoring during and after operations, with the results publicly reported.
- Tools and processes to safeguard employees on site as well as people in areas that are directly and indirectly affected by shale gas operations.
- Practices for minimizing impacts both on site and in areas that are indirectly affected. This includes pre-evaluation of project sites and their surroundings carried out by an independent environmental expert, along with careful environmental monitoring throughout the exploration, production and abandonment phases.
- Practices to minimize environmental and social impacts from the handling of water resources. This involves municipal water supplies, chemicals, additives and ground water issues; waste management and disposal; and consumption of energy resources.
- Guidelines for the design, construction, stimulation, operation and abandonment of wells.
- Planning to minimize project footprints.
- Active engagement with and education of the general public “early, frequently, consistently and truthfully” by gas companies. “Public acceptance is paramount to the successful permitting and operation of shale gas projects,” DNV warns.