Today, from the 2011 Aspen Ideas Festival, Shell makes its Global Onshore Tight/Shale Oil and Gas Operating Principles available to the public with examples of how the company delivers them. Shell has a rigorous set of five global operating principles that provide a tested framework for protecting water, air, biodiversity, and the communities in which Shell operates.
Shell is openly sharing these operating principles to address public concern about tight/shale oil and gas development - especially regarding hydraulic fracturing – encourage feedback and challenge from our stakeholders, and drive continuous improvement. Shell also supports regulation and enforcement that reinforces responsible operating practices and continues to improve the industry's overall performance.
"We understand there is concern around the development of shale gas, and we must give the public more knowledge of how we operate," said Marvin Odum, President, Shell Oil Company. "People have asked the industry for transparency; we have listened and are responding."
Specific on water, hydraulic fracturing has attracted a great deal of attention in recent months. As an example of how we deliver these principles, which are now described online, Shell mandates a stringent well construction standard that focuses on the use of safe drilling and completion processes, including reducing the risk of water contamination.
Further, Shell supports the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids, monitoring of groundwater, and a reduction in the amount of water used in the drilling process. Shell does not fracture wells unless it has pressure tested the wellbore for integrity. And, the company recycles as much water at each project as reasonably practicable. For example, in the Marcellus Shale, Shell recycles almost 100% of produced fluids, substantially reducing our fluid waste and reducing the amount of water volumes needed for hydraulic fracturing.
In the last decade, the industry has discovered an abundance of natural gas. Of the world's 250-year supply of gas estimated by the International Energy Agency (IEA), almost half is contained in shales, tight sandstones, and coal beds. More than one-third of the global gas-production increase, forecasted by the IEA over the next 25 years, could come from these sources.
"If the innumerable benefits of natural gas are to be realized, we must address the concerns of citizens and share the principles that we hold ourselves to at Shell," said Odum. "These principles manage the risk we know exists when producing energy, but just as importantly, they demonstrate our operational integrity and focus on collaboration, underpinning our belief that natural gas can be produced safely and responsibly."