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The Shale Gas Revolution (III)

After analysing the success of the shale gas revolution in the US, the third part of the article describes the current situation of the shale gas industry in Europe. Finally, some conclusions are presented.

Shale gas in Europe: Is it possible to replicate the revolution?

Europe Shale Gas Plays

There are estimated to be large reserves of shale gas in Europe. However, shale gas production is not significant nowadays and it is likely to remain the same during the next few years. It appears that there are a number of technical, environmental and regulatory barriers that are burdening the development of this industry. In general, the conditions in most European countries are different from those in the US:

Geology: Shale gas plays are smaller and deeper than in the US. As a result, extracting gas is more difficult.

Regulation: European regulations are very strict regarding environmental issues and water. There are no tax deductions for shale gas operations. Regarding the property rights in Europe, shale gas belongs to the state and landowners are not entitled to any compensation for the disruptions.

Government support: The EU Commission has not invested money in R&D for shale gas. The technology developed in the US is not really suitable for the European geology.

Environmental concern: The opposition to shale gas is much stronger in Europe. France and Bulgaria have already banned shale gas operations and other countries such as Germany have suspended operations until conclusions regarding environmental impact are reached.

Uncertainty regarding resources: Poland was supposed to have the greater potential to develop a strong shale gas industry. The results have been disappointing so far and the uncertainty regarding the amounts of shale gas that can actually be produced is really high.

Conclusions

Shale gas has great production potential. It could provide large amounts of cheap natural gas.

From a environmental point of view, if natural gas substituted for coal and oil, the levels of greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced. However, the environmental impact of shale gas operations also needs to be considered. Proper regulation to minimize damage from hydraulic fracturing is needed.

In the US, the shale gas industry is providing large supplies of cheap natural gas. The revolution is likely to continue and the contribution of shale gas to the US overall production will almost definitely keep increasing. On the contrary, the development of this industry in Europe is experiencing considerable difficulties and there is high uncertainty regarding  the future of shale gas in Europe and whether significant production can be achieved during the next few years.

In WLT| The Shale Gas Revolution (I)The Shale Gas Revolution (II)

Sources and More information| Are we entering a golden age of gas?The ‘Shale Gas Revolution’: Developments and ChangesShale gas fracking – Q&AWhat is shale gas and why is it important?

Image| Shale Gas Plays in Europe

Author Spotlight

Sergio de la Torre

Current Position:

Engineer at BPP-TECH. London, United Kingdom.

Associate Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Education:

Mechanical Engineer. Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros, University of Sevilla, Spain.

MSc in Advanced Mechanical Engineering. Cranfield University, United Kingdom.

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