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Operating principles for onshore natural gas exploration and extraction

At Centrica, we're committed to the highest of standards in health and safety, and the responsible development of our projects. That helps us to ensure that any potential impacts to local communities and the environment are effectively managed at every stage of the process. Our six operating principles for onshore natural gas operations provide a framework for protecting air, water, the local environment and communities in a transparent and open way whenever fracturing techniques are used to produce gas or oil from shale and other tight rock formations. We assess each of our relevant projects, accounting for site-specific circumstances and design and conduct our operations to meet these principles. Where we're part of a joint venture but are not the operator, we will encourage the operator to uphold these principles and, in the event that we acquire operations which are not consistent with these principles, we will develop an improvement programme to ensure compliance.

We will work closely with regulators, industry and other relevant bodies to advance best practice in onshore natural gas operations and keep our operating principles under review to ensure that they continue to meet industry leading standards. We will also report routinely and openly on our performance.

  • Prevent or reduce gas emissions, using reduced emission completions to capture the gas when reasonably practicable
  • Ensure captured gas is used on site or by third parties as soon as is reasonably practicable
  • Only flare gas when necessary and only for limited periods or volumes. Only vent non-combustible gas mixtures as a safety measure
  • Use low emission or renewable energy sources on-site where suitable
  • Prevent or reduce fugitive gas emissions through techniques such as Leak Detection and Maintenance Programs. Quantify potential fugitive emissions during operations, through measurement or calculation and make the results available to relevant regulators and interested stakeholders
  • Identify and assess potential impacts on groundwater prior to fracturing operations. Implement robust groundwater management and protection plans where necessary and in agreement with the relevant regulator
  • Prior to drilling a well, characterise the subsurface geology to help assess and manage the risk of connecting fractures to potable aquifers. Depending on site-specific circumstances this may involve the use of seismic surveys to characterise the geology and the monitoring of fracture propagation to confirm isolation
  • Undertake well design, construction and integrity testing to ensure drilling, fracturing, produced fluids and the production zone are isolated from potable groundwater aquifers. Submit results to the appropriate Regulator and Independent Well Examiner where required
  • Maintain details of all chemicals used in our fracturing operations and will make this information available to relevant regulators and interested stakeholders. We support regulation to require suppliers to disclose this information
  • Not use open or earthen pits to store fracturing liquids, but will instead utilise storage tank systems to avoid spillage
  • Ensure returned hydraulic fracturing waste water is separated and temporarily stored on site in a closed system to minimise any potential spillage or methane emissions (i.e. no open pond storage of returned water)
  • Manage surface water run-off to avoid impacts on local water sources
  • Minimise the use of fresh water through operational efficiency, the utilisation of alternatives such as groundwater or saline water, and the recycling of returned water where reasonably practicable
  • Ensure the responsible treatment and disposal of waste water at suitably authorised facilities
  • Seek to manage potential visual, noise and light impacts on local amenities, ecology and residents when selecting and designing sites including the management of vehicles in and around our sites
  • Undertake health, safety and environmental risk assessments for all fracturing operations involving the timely participation of local communities where relevant
  • Manage the risk and impacts of induced seismic activity through methods such as risk assessment, monitoring and surveys
  • Employ industry best practice for site restoration and meet or exceed all relevant legal requirements for post-production management
  • Ensure the environmental integrity and safety of the wells by always using surface casing extending to below the deepest potable aquifer and cement-sealed to fully isolate the aquifer from the gas-bearing zone
  • Only perform fracturing once full well integrity testing has verified barriers and the isolation of the gas-bearing zone. Consider minimum fracturing depths depending on site specifics including geology rock properties and proposed fracturing volumes and pressures
  • Employ high standards of maintenance and regular site inspections and audits throughout the development, including the production phase to confirm compliance with agreed standards. Work closely with independent well examiners and regulatory inspectors where required
  • Have site-specific emergency response plans in place to ensure rapid and appropriate response to unplanned events in co-ordination with local emergency services
  • Apply Centrica's Health, Safety and Environmental management systems and operating standards for well design and construction, casing design and well completions and abandonment for all operations. Where we are a non-operator, we will encourage the operator to use these standards as a benchmark for their operations
  • Work closely with Regulators, Industry and other relevant bodies to advance best practice in natural gas from shale operations and keep our practices under review to ensure they adhere to industry leading standards
  • Work with our contractors and suppliers to ensure our standards are upheld
  • Undertake operations in a transparent manner, produce performance reports as required and openly discuss our environmental performance with external stakeholders
  • Listen to and engage with local communities to identify and respond to concerns. Ensure timely and open dialogue with local residents on relevant matters
  • Where appropriate, assess the impact of operations on the social and economic life of the community and take steps to contribute towards sustainable, long term benefits for the local area
  • Pursue opportunities to train and hire staff locally and employ local suppliers and contractors