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Monday, February 4, 2013

Global risk manager issues full recommended practices for shale gas extraction

Last October, I blogged about Det Norske Veritas (DNV), a global provider of risk management services, creating an initial Recommended Practice for the life cycle of shale gas extraction, based on risk management principles.  At the time, only a summary of the RP was available.

The full 59-page Recommended Practice is now available. It is extraordinary - a painstakingly thorough, detailed, and comprehensive prescription for all aspects of shale gas development.  It is replete with detailed recommendations and requirements to minimize risk from shale gas operations. For example, the environmental section calls for these measures - spelled out in detail in the RP:

  • an Environmental Impact Assessment to be completed in advance of development - and independently and professionally reviewed - with the results provided to stakeholders;
  • employment of Best Available Techniques (BAT) and Best Available Practices (BAP) in preventing, minimizing, and mitigating adverse environmental impacts - evaluated and justified on a case-by-case basis;
  • a reduction in the use of chemicals as much as is reasonably feasible, with full disclosure of chemical use;
  • avoiding the use of impoundments for storage of fracturing fluids, flowback, or produced water; 
  • reduction of greenhouse gas and other air pollutant emissions - and light and noise pollution - as much as is reasonably feasible;
  • the completion of an environmental baseline study prior to commencement of activities and monitoring program to at a minimum include ground and surface water, air quality, and noise;
  • comprehensive reporting; and
  • a post operations survey by an independent third party to document environmental conditions and inform the implementation of any additional remediation measures that may be called for.

DNV says that this highly useful document can serve many functions: 
  • defining best practice risk management
  • providing a basis for subcontracting
  • as a contract reference, providing descriptions/specifications for the risk management process
  • a reference for independent assessment and verification
  • a reference for communication with stakeholders
  • a reference for development of shale gas-specific regulations.

The DNV Recommended Practice is a must-read for operators and their contractors, regulators, NGOs, stakeholders, and the public.  

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