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    EU Parliament Draft Motion Supports Shale Gas Development in Europe



Natural Gas Europe obtained a report of the draft motion to support assessing, exploring and developing shale gas reserves in Europe. The draft motion underlines the importance of promoting openness, monitoring and use of best practices.


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EU Parliament Draft Motion Supports Shale Gas Development in Europe

In a report obtained by Natural Gas Europe, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy recommends the European Union to support assessing, exploring and developing shale gas reserves in Europe.

The draft motion for a European Parliament Resolution, prepared under supervision of the rapporteur Niki Tzavela (Greek MEP representing Europe of Freedom and Democracy political group), underlines the importance of promoting openness, monitoring and use of best practices. 

To security and low-carbon economy

According to the draft report, gas is a quick and cost-efficient way of reducing reliance on other fossil fuels - especially coal, still extensively used in some member states, including Poland.

By helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions and backing up renewables, gas may become a “bridge fuel”, leading the European Union towards the transformation of the energy system outlined by the Roadmap 2050 initiative.

The draft report also explicitly states that shale gas production will increase security of supply in Europe. The committee observes the growing role of natural gas as the source of energy and the role of shale gas production in ensuring energy security and diversity.

The document, obtained by NGE, notes the impact made by the shale gas boom in the US on global gas market, pays special attention to increasing gas-to-gas competition and underlines strengthening position of customers vis-à-vis gas suppliers.

With a view to taking full advantage of possible shale gas production, it also stresses the importance of interconnected and integrated energy market, calling on the European Commission and member states to enforce requirements of the EU third energy package.

Estimate, research, train

The report states that although various estimates have been made, all of them point to the existence of a large indigenous energy resource in Europe. 

The document encourages states to assess and map those resources and asks the European Commission to engage in determining the level of shale gas reserves, by combining results from reports prepared by member states and results from exploration projects. 

According to the draft motion, member states should be urged to train labour force, by introducing the necessary skills into their mainstream education and training systems.

Importantly, the report notes the significance of establishing the necessary infrastructure, mentioning not only pipelines, but also roads. It also calls for further research and development into tools and technologies.

In the view of the authors, at the current stage of exploration works, the regulatory framework for licensing in the EU is adequate.

However, they propose to the EU Parliament to call on member states to ensure they put in place all the necessary administrative and monitoring resources for the further development of shale gas, by checking and improving - if necessary – their regulatory frameworks for future commercial scale production.

At the same time, the committee points out, that some member states did not hold public consultations during authorization phase, and it calls governments to provide proper transparency in this aspect. 

Look on the other side of the pond

The document recalls conditions that paved the way to the shale gas boom in the United States and pays special attention to the role of EU-US cooperation.

Comparing conditions for shale gas development in Europe and the United States, the committee observes, that it will certainly take time to build an adequate capacity for the large scale production, because of the lack of a sufficient number of rigs, necessary manpower and well-equipped and experienced service industry in Europe. 

Therefore, the committee recommends to the European Parliament to encourage cooperation between European and American companies and to urge the exchange of best practices and information between different level administration in the EU and the US.  

Persuade locals

The committee observes, that unlike American landowners, European farmers do not own underground resources and thus do not benefit from extraction. Thence, it underlines the necessity for building relationships with locals and calls on shale gas companies to ensure, that communities will benefit from the shale gas development.

The EU Parliament motion would also call for better public information, declare the EU support for creation of portals providing access to wide range of data, and urge companies to provide full information, including disclosure of the chemicals, they intend to use in  fracturing operations.

Respect nature

The draft stresses, that operators should reduce flaring and venting and restore land used. 

It also highlights the need for establishing minimum safety standards and organizing inspections, especially during stages of well construction and hydraulic fracturing.

Finally, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy recalls, that according to the polluter – pays principle, companies would be liable for any damages.

As Natural Gas Europe learned, amongst proposed amendments to the motion, there is an invitation to introducing pressure testing of cement casing, testing of  wells before and during operations, and publication of the sesults of those examinations.