In recent years, the energy potential of unconventional gas reservoirs has been drawing considerable interest from the government, industry, and researchers. This has led to increased investment in the exploration and development of these resources. However, concerns have also been raised regarding the possible environmental consequences of exploitation technologies such as hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’), in particular water contamination, induced seismicity and fugitive methane emissions.
Project aim and results:
In this context, our research group is carrying out a scientific assessment of the risks and opportunities associated with unconventional natural gas reservoirs. As part of our work, we collect and review reports and scientific publications on unconventional gas, follow new developments in the shale gas/fracking debate in Germany and Europe, and establish scientific collaborations with universities, research centres, governmental institutions and industry.
The research group aims to gain a better understanding of gas hydrate, shale gas and coal-bed methane reservoirs and their respective production techniques. Currently, it is focusing on shale gas developments worldwide, starting from an analysis of the potential for shale gas in Germany. Based on this initial assessment of geological and economic features, we are exploring the implications that shale gas development would have for our society, from the very controversial environmental issues raised, for example, by hydraulic fracturing to the envisaged economic and geopolitical repercussions. Some key areas of inquiry have already been identified and investigated, such as the issue of fugitive emissions in the gas chain and their environmental repercussions.
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