We are committed to ensuring a rigorous, evidence-based approach to oil and gas extraction, and other sub-surface technologies such as geothermal heat. Fundamental research is the responsibility of research councils - independent from Government in their decision making - who are funding a number of relevant programmes.
The Natural Environment Research Council’s Geo Energy Observatories (UK GEOS) is a government funded project (£31m) with two world-leading centres for research, technology and monitoring of the subsurface that will provide open-data for academia, industry and regulators. Researchers will be able to use the observatories to determine the effect of subsurface energy technologies like those used in geothermal and shale gas extraction. UK GEOS could capture valuable data on nearby shale sites if operations go ahead. It is anticipated that the facilities will be operational by autumn 2019.
NERC and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have also invested £8 million in a research programme on unconventional hydrocarbons in the UK energy system: environmental and socio-economic impacts and processes. The outcome of this research programme will be to update the independent scientific evidence base to understand potential environmental and socio-economic impacts of unconventional hydrocarbon development.
A list of the successful bids, details of their funding and timescales of the research can be found here: http://gotw.nerc.ac.uk/list_them.asp?them=Uncon+Hydrocarbons&cookieConsent=A
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also currently grant funds a research consortium led by the British Geological Survey (BGS) to deliver an environmental monitoring programme in and around the first shale sites in Lancashire and North Yorkshire where applications for shale gas wells have been made. Since January 2015, researchers have been gathering baseline data on a number of environmental parameters including ground water & air quality, seismicity, radon and ground motion.
This information is made freely available to the public and supports peer-reviewed science. It will also inform future best practice, enable new technologies to be developed, and develop the UK skill base. The cost to grant-fund this programme is £1 million for the 2018/19 financial period.
Since 2015, the Department has also funded a research consortium led by Bristol University with the aim of developing a better understanding of natural induced microearthquakes and the application of microseismic monitoring to the oil and gas industry, to support regulatory decisions and improve public engagement. The cost to fund this is £19,000 per annum.