German MEP tells Lithuanians “shale is unnecessary”

Rebecca Harms
Source: WikiCommons, Du entscheidest Europa

While visiting Lithuania, German MEP Rebecca Harms (pictured), said that shale gas extraction will not contribute to reducing carbon dioxide emissions – the portal Baltic-Course reported today.

Harms, who is the Co-Chair of the Group of the Greens at the European Parliament, said during a press conference at the Lithuanian Parliament that cutting consumption of fossil fuels and reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the main precondition for fighting climate change and striving for energy innovation. Harms said that gas extraction would not be necessary if all other alternatives were well-thought-out.

Natural gas – producing less CO2 when burned than coal – is often presented as a “bridge fuel” that will fill the time-gap between abandoning coal and when renewable sources of energy become financially viable. The claim is being hotly contested by environmental groups.

It might seem that Harms was preaching to the converted as Lithuania has put on hold its efforts in shale exploration. Back in April, The Minister of Energy, Rokas Masiulis, along with the Minister of Environment, Kestutis Treciokas, have agreed that announcing another shale licencing round – initially slated for the spring of 2015 – cannot be justified given the current market conditions.

“This is not the right time to invite tenders,” Mr Masiulis said. “A tense geopolitical situation, along with adjustments to business budgets caused by low oil prices in the global markets, have caused many companies to lower their spending when it comes to unconventional oil and gas exploration. Some projects have been postponed indefinitely,” he said.

“We had originally planned to launch another round of shale licencing within the next two to three months. The decision to abandon the project, however, will be taken by the government and not just by myself. If companies do not express any interest in the tender, then it makes no sense to go through with it,” he added.

Mr Masiulis said that the situation might change once crude oil prices pick up again.

Chevron was the last oil major to abandon Lithuania in July last year, deterred by the then-adopted proposals for 40 per cent taxation of shale gas production. The law has since been altered and the country’s Prime Minister, Algirdas Butkevicius, has since expressed hope that the American major would return to Lithuania.

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