By / July 13, 2012

Industrial and energy aspects of shale gas extraction

The 2050 Energy Roadmap, published by the Commission in December 2011, recognises shale gas as an energy source that could…

© Pincasso. Used under license from
© Pincasso. Used under license from

The 2050 Energy Roadmap, published by the Commission in December 2011, recognises shale gas as an energy source that could potentially lessen the EU’s import dependence and play an important part in the EU’s energy mix in the future.  However, there is continuing uncertainty about the future role of unconventional gas resources, in particular shale gas. There are serious concerns about the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the environment and on human health. At the same time, there is growing interest in the opportunities for new markets, energy security and job creation that shale gas resources in the EU may present.

A new DG Energy study on licensing and permitting procedures concludes that there are no major gaps in EU environmental law when it comes to regulating the current level of shale gas activity. A directive is therefore not immediately required, but existing legislation could be tweaked to provide greater protection. It doesn’t rule out that an increased level of shale gas exploitation on a commercial scale would involve bigger involvement by the EU in the future. Last year, a European Parliament Policy Department study called for a directive and recommended banning, or at least restricting, the injection of toxic chemicals during fracking. Two own-initiative procedures have been launched by the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) committees in 2011.

You can read more about shale gas in the Library keysource:
Environmental and health impacts of shale gas extraction (24.4.2012, updated 25.6.2012)

Overviews and news items

Breaking fuel from the rock / National Geographic
Interactive map showing the drilling technique often used for unlocking natural gas in shale rock

Shale gas background note / Department of Energy and Climate change (UK), 2012, 7 p.
Fact sheet on shale gas to facilitate understanding of by non-specialists.

News articles on shale gas;
ENDS Europe
Natural gas for Europe

Shale gas resources

Shale gas exploration sites in Europe: map /

Survey of energy resources: shale gas – what’s new? / World Energy Council (WEC), 2012, 16 p.
In mid-2010, the World Energy Council published a comprehensive report on shale gas. Given the slow pace of change and long lead-times typical to the energy sector, it is amazing to note how different the global outlook for shale gas is today compared to last year.

World shale gas resources: an initial assessment of 14 regions outside the United States / Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2011, 365 p.
This report assesses the potential for shale gas development in 48 basins in 32 countries around the world.

Review of emerging resources: U.S. shale gas and shale oil plays / US Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2011, 105 p.
Estimates of shale oil and shale gas resources in the United States.

Impact on EU gas markets

A model-based analysis of the implications of shale gas developments for the European gas market / de Joode, Jeroen ; Plomp, Arjan ; Özdemir, Özge ; Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), 2012, 7 p.
This paper illustrates the potential implications of shale gas on regional gas balances, gas flows, and infrastructure requirements throughout Europe in the next decades.

Central Europe Energy Horizons 2012 – Part I: HeadwindsPart II: Tailwinds / Doran, Peter B. ; Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), 2012
In this two-part series, CEPA examines the economic, political and strategic imperatives for Central European shale gas.

Shale gas potential in the EU and effects on the market / Schwarcz, András. European Parliament Library (Library Briefing), 2011, 6 p.

Can unconventional gas be a game-changer in European gas markets? / Florence Gény, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, December 2010, 127 p.
This paper analyses the potential for European unconventional gas to be developed and transform European gas markets.

Industrial environment, licensing issues

Golden rules for a golden age of gas (special report: World energy outlook, 2011) / International Energy Agency (IEA), 2012, 150 p.
The “Golden Rules” are principles that can allow governments, industry & other stakeholders to address the environmental & social impacts of shale gas extraction.

Preese Hall shale gas fracturing: review & recommendations for induced seismic mitigation, DECC (UK), April 2012, 26 p.
Report on the causation of the seismic events experienced in the Blackpool area last year during hydraulic fracturing operations at Preese Hall, and recommendations to mitigate the risks of similar events in future fracturing operations.
background information

Final report on unconventional gas in Europe / Philippe & Partners for DG Energy, November 2011, 104 p.
Study on the licensing and permitting procedures for shale gas projects, based on a sample of four EU Member States (France, Germany, Poland and Sweden).

The ‘Shale gas revolution’: hype and reality / Paul Stevens. Chatham House, September 2010, 46 p.
This report casts serious doubt over industry confidence in the ‘revolution’, questioning whether it can spread beyond the US.

Further analysis, including environmental and human health issues

Are we entering a golden age of gas? (special report: World energy outlook, 2011) / International Energy Agency (IEA), 2011, 131 p.
This report examines the factors that will drive the demand for, and supply of, natural gas in the coming decades.

Impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction on the environment and on human health / European Parliament. Policy Department A. Economic and Scientific Policy, 2011, 91 p.
This study discusses the possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing on the environment and on human health.

Shale gas: a provisional assessment of climate change and environmental impacts / The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. University of Manchester ; Sustainable Change Co-operative, January 2011, 87 p.
This report warns that further research on the environmental impacts of the shale gas drilling procedure is needed. It “demonstrates how the extraction risks seriously contaminating ground and surface waters”.
updated version, November 2011, 19 p.

Path to prosperity or road to ruin?: shale gas under political scrutiny / Wyciszkiewicz, Ernest. Polish Institute of International Affairs, 2011, 52 p.
The main goal of this report is to look at the shale-gas debate in Europe through political and institutional lenses, to track down the interests of Member states and other agents.

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