Shale Gas Research


ReFINE is an independent research consortium led by Durham Energy Institute, one of eight Research Institutes at Durham University. The consortium focuses on the issue of shale gas and oil exploitation using fracking methods and its potential risks.

Timeline of Work:

Shale Gas Research Timeline


Over a two year period ReFINE will carry out scientific research, with the recognition that there are many important social impacts related to the potentially widespread exploitation of gas- or oil-rich shales across Europe.

Latest Publication

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On 24th June 2014 ReFINE published a study into the radioactivity of fracking flowback water in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research. The paper, entitled "The Flux of Radionuclides in Flowback Fluid from Shale Gas Exploitation" is available for free download.

Download Paper


Latest News

BBC News 24
07 July 2014

Prof. Richard Davies is interviewed by BBC News 24, discussing the logistics and potential risks of a UK based shale gas industry. Discussing the potential for aquifer contamination from fracking, Prof. Davies recommends, based on ReFINE research, a minimum vertical separation of 600m between aquifers and fracking operations. On the subject of well integrity, Prof. Davies calls for monitoring of abandoned wells, and the public availability of monitoring data as part of an open, honest dialogue with the public around the issue of fracking.

Richard Davies Interviewed for BBC News
04 July 2014

Following the publication of a British Geological Survey report into the locations of Britain's shale rocks and aquifers, ReFINE's Prof. Richard Davies is interviewed alongside BGS representatives. The report examines and maps the separation between shales and aquifers (water-bearing rocks) across the UK and will contribute to the assesment of the potential risk of fracking in certain areas. Prof. Davies said, "A small percentage of wells used to do the fracking could leak, and it is critically important that those wells are checked".

ReFINE Scientists Interviewed
25 June 2014

ReFINE scientists Prof. Fred Worrall and Prof. Richard Davies are interviewed by The Journal regarding the recent ReFINE research paper titled "The flux of radionuclides in flowback fluid from shale gas exploitation". Read Article Prof. Worrall said, "The findings of this research confirm that levels of water radioactivity in the flowback water from shale gas operations would be lower than the annual exposure limit set by the Environment Agency...We, in the UK, already handle larger volumes of fluid with higher radioactivity from other energy industries, such as conventional oil and gas production.". The paper examines how much radioactive material could enter UK waterways if significant fracking operations were to take place, and compares this to the levels of radioactivity associated with other UK industries such as the nuclear and medical sectors. Prof. Davies, ReFINE project leader, said, "[The paper] underlines the need to have up-to-date, independent and impartial scientific research on issues which the public wants and the Government needs."


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