06Sep / 2016
The Environment Agency (EA) has released an updated version of its ‘Onshore Oil and Gas Sector Guidance’ including more detail on ground water monitoring.
Although the regulations have not changed, this new version explains further the environmental protection measures expected from oil and gas companies and their consultants.
Throughout the document there is an emphasis on environmental monitoring as a principle component of good practice. The starting point for this is the Site Condition Report, which describes the pre-exiting baseline conditions and is produced before operations begin . This is a ‘live’ document which should be updated with operational monitoring data throughout the sites life cycle and post de-commissioning statistics to allow permit surrender. This will be allowed when it is demonstrated that a site has been returned to its original condition without any lasting impacts.
Click on the image for the full document.
Of particular relevance in this version of the EA guidance is the section on ground water monitoring:
‘To obtain your Hydraulic Fracturing Consent, you will need to demonstrate… that you have undertaken 12 months groundwater methane monitoring.’
‘A basic baseline data set will consist of a minimum of 3 sets of data taken over a 3 month period, to observe natural variations. This should be done prior to any drilling taking place.’
‘More samples will be needed where it is necessary to identify seasonal variations.’
The requirements echo stipulations relating to environmental protection in onshore petroleum set down by the Infrastructure Act 2015, including methane monitoring in the air and ground water for a minimum of 12 months. Although this updated guidance adds further clarity for operators, it does not specify the type of monitoring required, suitable methodologies or level of accuracy when interpreting data.
The evolution of guidance relating to onshore oil and gas exploration is an ongoing process. Further changes can be expected whilst associated technologies, monitoring methodologies and best practice takes shape. As these are developed, the UK takes further steps towards enforcing the world’s most robust onshore petroleum regulatory system.
Having monitored onshore gas exploration since before regulations were introduced, GGS has established continuous monitoring as the most scientifically robust method of monitoring hydraulic fracturing. It makes possible the accurate benchmarking of a sites natural baseline conditions, which is then compared to operational data to present a true picture of the ground gas regime. Continuous monitoring also improves the process and speed of data acquisition, allowing for more precise predictions and quicker remediation measures. This in turn saves our clients time and money whilst evidencing best practice.
Read more about GGS’ continuous monitoring services for the Onshore Petroleum industry here.
Contact GGS for a quote by clicking here.
Read the full EA guidance document for Onshore Oil and Gas here.