Shale gas development

28 March 2019
Shale gas
Hydraulic fracturing
Water-energy nexus


Title: Shale Gas Development: Is shale gas a viable and feasible source of natural gas in Europe?

Author: Cristina Madrid López (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

Date: March 2019




According to the European Commission communication [1] on the exploration and production of hydrocarbons (such as shale gas) using high volume hydraulic fracturing in the EU, shale gas will only be considered as an alternative natural gas source in a situation of severe natural gas supply shortage. In a situation of unstable diplomatic relations with the EU’s most important commercial gas partners,shale gas would be the most important domestic source of natural gas. The shale gas sector would become key for the EU strategic vision 2050 and natural gas would substitute coal and lead the transition towards a low carbon economy.

There are three reasons why there might be a second opportunity for the shale gas industry in the EU. First, because of the deterioration of the diplomatic relations between the EU and its main natural gas external provider, Russia, who currently supplies about 40% of the natural gas imports, some 250 billion cubic meters (bcm) [2]. Second, the Brexit might leave the EU without a third of its natural gas production, while taking out only a fifth of its consumption, which makes a rough loss of another 12 bcm. Third, following the strongest earthquake in years the Dutch Government announced on March 29th 2018 a cut in natural gas production from the Groningen fields. A reduction from 22 bcm per year to 12 bcm is planned as quickly as possible -no later than 2022- and the closure of the fields, by 2030.