Det Norske Veritas (DNV), a Norwegian-based risk management foundation, has published recommended practices (RP) to guide operators that extract shale natural gas.

Inherent in the Oslo-based DNV proposal is that exploration and production (E&P) operators should carry out worldwide-accepted practices that are both transparent and traceable. The proposed RP criteria were developed during an 18-month period in which technology and risk management experts collaborated with various stakeholders to review existing industry practices and guidelines.

DNV’s Remi Eriksen, CEO of Maritime and Oil/Gas, said “controversy and conflict” were a given for unconventional drilling using hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The RP “ensures that the contentious issues are managed in an accurate, balanced, transparent and traceable way.” DNV originally was established to inspect and evaluate the technical condition of Norwegian merchant vessels.

DNV’s team recommends that E&Ps use a risk-based approach to develop unconventional gas and it advocates that activity be monitored and publicly reported to establish “proper points of reference and consistent monitoring” before, during and after fracking operations — basically, baseline monitoring, which has been recommended by several U.S. states and federal officials.

The RP calls for “extensive baseline surveys” before unconventional drilling begins; the results of which would be shared with stakeholders and the public. Among its recommendations are that practices focus on management systems; safety, health, and the environment; well integrity; water and energy management; infrastructure and logistics; public engagement; stakeholder communication; and permitting.

“We believe that companies that embrace our RP will earn increased trust and confidence among the general public and other stakeholders by implementing operational best practices and creating standards for industry to document that their activities are being executed in a safe and responsible manner,” Eriksen said.