Shale gas has emerged onto the global energy scene to a mixed reception. The potential of shale gas as a substantial resource is undeniable, with extraction involving the drilling of organic rich, low permeability shale and then simulation of hydraulic fractures that allow gas to be produced. The Durham Energy Institute recognises that there is a growing need to address the fundamental questions that underpin shale gas exploitation.
Shale Gas and risk
Shale gas extraction is likely to fail to gain public acceptance and political support unless it is conducted in a manner which is seen to be responsible, open and transparent. A critical element of any future strategy is therefore the inclusion of a transparent and fully participatory engagement between a range of diverse publics, national and local politicians and civil servants, industry representatives and NGOs. The perceived risks associated with shale gas extraction are related to the earthquakes triggered by shale fracturing process, contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, the migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, and the potential mishandling of waste.
Shale Gas From Source Rocks in the UK
Research into the Carboniferous hydrocarbon source rock basins of the UK and their potential for shale gas extraction.
- The Holywell Shale System. This project is critically assessing the potential of the Holywell shale in NE Wales as a shale gas resource. Outcrop material is being collected and the geological setting and geochemistry of the materials studied and contrasted (Jon Gluyas, Chris Greenwell, Leo Newport).
The Durham Energy Institute is interested in understanding the controls of fracture style and orientation within mudstone-dominated strata of shale gas sequences, in particular how variations in fluid overpressure and organic carbon content affect the development of fracture systems.
- Dr. Jonny Imber is currently researching fractures within the Toarcian black and grey shales (the Whitby Mudstone Formation) of the Cleveland Basin, northern England. The clean coastal exposures make the Whitby Mudstone Formation an excellent natural laboratory in which to study fracturing.