Tuesday

23rd May 2017

Brussels to draft shale gas rules by end of year

  • US scientist: 'The biggest problem with fracking is use of carcinogenic materials' (Photo: marcovdz)

The EU will draft rules for shale gas production by the end of 2013, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Tuesday (28 May).

Speaking during a debate with MEPs, Barroso said the framework would allow "the safe and secure extraction of shale gas in Europe."

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Energy prices in Europe are more than twice the levels in the US, while concerns over costs and energy dependence are particularly pressing for eastern European countries, which are reliant on Russian energy giant Gazprom.

Meanwhile, the recent emergence of vast supplies of natural shale gas in the US has radically altered the energy landscape.

The commission will ensure that "the rules of the game are the same, while providing reassurance to the public that environmental and health safeguards are in place," Barroso said.

He fended off accusations from Green group spokeswoman, Rebecca Harms, that a meeting of EU leaders last week saw a "paradigm shift" in EU energy policy away from environmental sustainability and climate change.

"The commission proudly stands by all it has its policies on climate change … we should not give up our leadership role on climate change," Barroso noted.

He added that: "If there is a shale gas revolution in the US we should have an energy efficiency revolution in the European Union."

The shale gas boom in the US is providing an annual 0.5 percent increase in total economic output as well as an estimated 3 million new jobs.

The American Natural Gas Alliance estimates that the US has a 200-year supply of recoverable natural gas.

However, there are concerns about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, known as "fracking," which is used to extract the gas.

Fracking involves the fracturing of rock layers using a mixture of water and chemicals, several of which cause cancer, in a well-bore hundreds of meters underground.

The process, which typically uses between 4 and 5 million gallons of water per well, allows natural gas to be extracted from the rock.

Around 35 percent of the water used in fracking comes back up to the surface.

Kent Moors, a Professor at Duquesne university in Pennsylvania, told EUobserver that "the single biggest problem with fracking is the use of carcinogenic materials."

Although France and Germany lead a group of EU countries that have a moratorium on fracking, other member states are preparing to start drilling more quickly.

The UK recently signalled its intention to begin drilling work in north-west England, while Poland and Romania have the most accessible shale gas deposits.

Climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard has been reluctant to support shall gas extraction.

But EU industry commissioner Gunther Oettinger has voiced strong support, while Anne Glover, the commission's chief scientific advisor, gave the green light in March.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  2. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes Patients
  4. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  5. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  7. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  8. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  9. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  10. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  11. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Cost of Speaking Out: Human Rights Violations Committed in Belarus