Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering to review potential risks of shale gas extraction

01 March 2012

What are the geological, environmental and technical risks associated with hydraulic fracturing as a means to extract shale gas in the UK?  Can these risks be effectively managed?  A new review announced by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering will investigate these questions.

Shale gas extraction in the UK: a review of the scientific and engineering evidence will review the scientific and engineering evidence, including levels of uncertainty and potential risks, associated with the extraction of shale gas.

 The working group for the review comprises:
1 Professor Robert Mair FREng FRS, Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Department of Engineering, Cambridge University (Chair)
2 Professor Michael Bickle FRS, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge
3 Dr Dougal Goodman FREng, Chief Executive, The Foundation for Science and Technology
4 Dr John Roberts FREng, Former CEO of Merseyside and North Wales Electricity Board, as well as United Utilities
5 Professor Richard Selley, Department of Earth Science and Engineering, Imperial College London
6 Professor Zoe Shipton, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Strathclyde
7 Professor Hywel Thomas FREng, Director, Geoenvironmental Research Centre, Cardiff University
8 Professor Paul Younger FREng, Director, Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability, University of Newcastle

Professor Robert Mair FREng FRS, chair of the working group undertaking the review said:
“The extraction of shale gas in the UK has been the subject of recent debate, with many concerned over potential risks associated with the process.  We will review the available scientific and engineering evidence to provide a clear indication of where any potential risks are well understood, where there is general agreement but continuing debate, and where more significant uncertainties remain. We will also consider how these risks can be managed. 

This review will not be an exhaustive analysis of all the issues associated with shale gas, nor does it promise to make any judgements on the appropriateness or otherwise of shale gas extraction being undertaken.   We hope that this review will be a valuable contribution from the scientific and engineering community to a wider debate on the future of shale gas extraction in the UK that should also encompass societal and economic issues.”

The results of the review will be released later in the year.