project

Shale Gas and Water

Expert(s):
Prof. Annemarie van Wezel PhD

  • Start date
    01 Aug 2015
  • End date
    01 Jan 2020
  • Principal
    NWO: Aard- en Levenswetenschappen
  • collaborating partners
    NWO, KWR, Universiteit Utrecht, Wageningen University, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Brabant Water, Oasen, WML

Before the Netherlands can initiate shale gas extraction, answers must be given to the question of the possible environmental risks involved for the water system. The Shale Gas and Water programme is focused on issues in the area of water management and shale gas extraction that are specific to the situation in the Netherlands, which relate to geology, hydrology and the management context. The programme’s research contributes to the key considerations and decision-making surrounding the possible risks and the management possibilities for water and shale gas extraction. It also expands our information about the country’s deep subsurface.

Shale gas as energy source

The exploitation of shale gas as a source of energy has attracted interest all over the world as well as in the Netherlands. But shale gas extraction is not uncontroversial because it can have undesirable impacts on humans and the environment, for instance, as a result of chemical leakages into the soil and groundwater. The relationship between shale gas and water is crucial and raises important questions that must be answered before responsible extraction operations can be undertaken. The four-year Shale Gas and Water programme is therefore directed at researching the environmental risks to the water system represented by shale gas production in the Netherlands, the possibilities of avoiding these risks, and the functioning of national and international legal frameworks.

The shale gas extraction process in its environmental context. The Posidonia shale is one of the two interesting ones in the Netherlands.

Water management as a critical factor

The programme is focused on issues in the area of water management and shale gas extraction that are specific to the situation in the Netherlands, which relate to geology, hydrology and the management context.

The research programme’s key components are:

  • Water use and geochemical vulnerability of groundwater sources
  • Quality of the wastewater generated by fracking and gas production, and risk assessment
  • Processing wastewater
  • Regulation and governance

Societal interest

Shale Gas and Water contributes to the key considerations and decision-making surrounding the possible risks and the management possibilities for water and shale gas extraction. It also expands our information about the country’s deep subsurface; information that is of importance in view of the increasing level of activities in the subsurface.