With North Sea reserves rapidly depleting, the exploitation of shale gas could undoubtedly provide a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
Only last week Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, stated that shale gas could provide ‘energy security’ for the future and help to reduce imports as we move to a low-carbon economy. According to some reports, the UK could hold as much as 200 trillion cubic feet underground – approximately 70 times the country’s annual gas demand.
Fracking is the process used to recover oil and gas from shale rock. It involves creating tiny explosions underground, then injecting water and chemicals to release gas trapped in the rock.
Fracking is already widely used in the US to exploit previously untapped reserves of oil and gas. In the UK, however, fracking was temporarily halted in 2011 after some minor earthquakes near Blackpool were attributed to the technique. Following the introduction of new seismic monitoring, the UK Government gave the go ahead for fracking to recommence earlier this month.
Here at OptaSense, we are at the forefront of monitoring technologies for fracking. We have partnered with Shell to develop a world-leading technique that uses fibre optic Distributed Acoustic Sensing to provide real-time monitoring of fracture fluid injections.
OptaSense uses a fibre optic cable that features thousands of virtual microphones and runs down the full length of the well. In effect, this provides a well with its own nervous system – enabling operators to ‘listen’ to what’s happening underground in real time at any given point. As a result, operators can improve and streamline the hydraulic fracturing process in a safe, cost-effective and reliable manner.
The OptaSense solution helps with various monitoring activities as well as detecting naturally occurring seismic events and those initiated by fracking. So, the technology will help oil and gas companies to meet the UK Government’s new monitoring requirements issued in December 2012.
Shale gas exploration is still at an early stage of development but there is little doubt that it can provide a long-term solution to the UK’s growing energy needs. OptaSense is poised to play a critical role in this process.
 www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/13/fracking-shale-gas-green-light quoting Cuadrilla