Results of NWO Shale Gas & Water research and significance for water quality

Workshop on Sustainable Use of the Deep Subsurface

Event details

The Shale Gas & Water research programme of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), with the support of three water utilities (Oasen, WML and Brabant Water), will conclude on 21 November with a meeting and workshop at KWR Water Research Institute, Groningenhaven 7 in Nieuwegein.

The workshop on the Sustainable Use of the Deep Subsurface – Impact on water (quality), will be held from 10:00 to about 15:30.

The morning programme begins with contributions from four researchers (Gillian Schout, Ann-Hélène Faber, Andrii Butkovskyi and Herman Kasper Gilissen) and from the programme’s coordinator, Prof. Annemarie van Wezel, who will provide an overview of the research programme’s output. After lunch, there will be a presentation on the vision of the three supporting water utilities, and presentations on the outlooks for KWR by Roberta Hofman-Caris and Niels Hartog. The meeting will conclude with a panel discussion. We have invited representatives from the various stakeholders – e.g., national government, Water Authorities, oil and gas industry, water utilities, the scientific community – to be part of the panel.

Sustainable use of the (deep) subsurface: what does the future have to offer, what do we need?

Despite the many decades of oil and gas activities in the Netherlands, relatively little social and scientific attention was paid at first to their impact on the environment and society. But over the last few years societal interest in the impact of deep subsurface activities has grown strongly, triggered principally by the land subsidence resulting from gas extraction and by the possible start of shale gas extraction. The potential consequences of subsurface activities on groundwater availability and quality is seen as an important concern in this regard. To gain an understanding of this impact, research within the programme has looked at the effect on groundwater of oil and gas extraction in the Netherlands. One of the research outcomes now makes it clear that methane leakages from the deep into the shallow subsurface can occur as a result of drilling, as well as along wells, even if these have been abandoned for decades. In principle, other substances can also be spread along these leakage pathways and thus present a possible hazard. This is why insights such as these are important for the safe pursuit and development of other deep-subsurface activities, for instance, within the framework of the sustainable energy transition, such as geothermal energy and subsurface hydrogen storage.

The insights gained will be presented and discussed during this meeting. Moreover, consideration will be given to which knowledge questions need to be answered with priority to ensure a safe and sustainable use of the deep subsurface, today and into the future.