Will Europe pass on a shale gas revolution?

Europe appears to be hesitant to tap its shale natural gas resources on concerns over fracking, a controversial drilling technique, and continued emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

Bogdan Cristel/Reuters/File
People attend a protest against plans by US oil major Chevron to search for shale gas in Pungesti, 211 miles northeast of Bucharest, Romania Saturday.

U.S. supermajor Chevron last week halted work on an exploration well in the Romanian town of Pungesti after protesters rallied in opposition of hydraulic fracturing.  The company had only secured the rights to explore in three areas near the Black Sea earlier this year, just months after a fracking moratorium was lifted. Romania, like many of its neighbors in Eastern Europe, may have enough natural gas locked in shale deposits to meet domestic demand for more than 100 years.  The European Union said it was mindful of the shale natural gas phenomenon in the United States but needs to remain committed to its long-term goals of a future less dependent on fossil fuels.

Chevron suspended plans to look for natural gas in eastern Romania last week. Romania, like many others in the region, is looking for a way to become more self-reliant in an energy sector dominated for years by Russian energy company Gazprom. (Related article: Saudi Arabia to Use Shale Gas for Domestic Power Generation)

study of the shale natural gas potential outside the United States by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found Romania holds 51 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable reserves. A moratorium on shale exploration ended in December though concerns over fracking may cloud the country's immediate natural gas future.

High-profile protests against Cuadrilla Resources earlier this year brought the European shale debate to the forefront of the discussion over Europe's energy future. Cuadrilla's Chief Executive Officer Francis Egan stressed there were understandable environmental concerns associated with fracking but said the benefits of shale exploration would soon become "crystal clear." 

Janez Potocnik, European commissioner for the environment, said at a Monday conference on shale natural gas in London, however, that the long-term verdict wasn't yet determined.

"New sources of gas, such as from shale, are attractive," he said. "But we should not forget that shale gas is a fossil fuel and that our ultimate goal is a carbon-free society, which will require the development and support of renewable energies." (Related article: Investment Opportunities Arise as Majors Rush to Invest in Canadas LNG Potential)

Potocnik said that, while member states like Romania have a right to determine their own energy mix, they've also agreed to joint policies for the European future. By 2020, member states need to cut CO2 emissions, increase the share of renewables and increase energy efficiency by 20 percent against a 1990s benchmark. To avoid dramatic increases in temperature over the long term, the commissioner said EU members needs to cut their CO2 emissions by as much as 95 percent by 2050. Though some countries are doing better on specific benchmarks, no member is within site of the 2020 goalpost, however.

"Whether shale gas becomes a success story in Europe or not, whether it is profitable or not, we need to remain consistent with our long term strategy of a low carbon, resource-efficient economy," he said. "Just as we must do everything necessary to sustain and improve our global European competitiveness, we must also do everything necessary to live within the limits of our planet."

Original article: http://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/Europe-Taking-a-Pass-on-Shale-Revolution.html

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.