Non-technical risks are generally those above-ground, unforeseen issues that can impact a project’s cost and schedule and are key considerations for Shell’s Appalachia’s exploration and production activities. Examples of non-technical risks include regulatory, environmental, geological, social, political, and community influences or changes that effect industry. The need for a comprehensive process that provides a broad-level identification of sensitive areas and business risks has been addressed by Shell Appalachia, one of Shell’s Upstream Americas assets, through the creation of a unique Site Selection and Screening Process. This process has been customized to specifically fit the needs of Shell Appalachia’s business.
The key concept in Shell Appalachia’s new system and process screening is a spatially-enabled web application providing a visual interface with selective Geographic Information System (GIS) data layers. This web-enabled GIS application acts as a decision support tool to expose and thereby identify risks associated with oil and gas field development while optimizing Shell Appalachia’s voluntary Impact Assessment and iterative planning process. The mapping application displays information in a simple-to-use web GIS where data can be visualized easily and web information kept evergreen. The system plays an integral role in the way activities are planned and managed within a real time decision-making framework, and with this system in place, project planning and permitting can move forward in an efficient manner. The web-enabled GIS application allows planners in all facets of the company to choose from a library of spatial data layers including social (proximity to residences, schools, hospitals), environmental (wetlands, wildlife habitats), regulatory, analytical (air, water, waste), geological, and field data as well as critical infrastructure layers.