EERA Shale Gas Joint Program

SP2: Technology for safe  and efficient

Shale gas exploitation poses technological challenges because the hydrocarbons are directly produced from the source rock with permeability far below the requirements for conventional methods. For a European development, efforts are needed into a deeper upfront shale characterization and understanding of the subsurface processes to become sufficiently environmentally acceptable and safe in populated areas.

Production parameters and borehole stability need to be optimized in order to comply with local laws and regulations. In particular, efforts will be dedicated to the optimization of hydraulic fracturing as well as the identification and development of alternative production technologies.

The objective of this sub-programme is to provide means to improve the efficiency and the recovery from shale gas reservoirs with the minimum environmental impact. This will be achieved by:

  • Developing characterisation methods tailor made for gas shale reservoirs

  • Developing existing and innovative drilling techniques that improve borehole stability

  • Improving the understanding of fracture growth aiming at better control and prediction of the fracturing process

  • Developing innovative fracturing processes by using alternative fluids, new materials (proppants) and fluid-free fracturing techniques

  • Identification and development of alternative shale gas production technologies;

  • Increased learning from on-going production monitoring


The work is organized into six work packages covering (1) shale reservoir characterisation, (2) horizontal drilling, (3) fracturing, (4) monitoring of fracturing and production and (5) alternative production technologies.

The tasks will be performed, mostly in parallel, over a 3 year time frame (2013 – 2016) comprising an initial assessment of the technology status for the various countries and an identification of topics needing and benefiting from a united European effort. Periodic technology status reports will be elaborated as well as yearly meetings to discuss the achievements.