Shale gas exploration in Europe has become a hot topic in recent years, with governments across the continent taking very different stances on the issue. The arguments for shale gas exploration have gained momentum after the successful history of shale exploration in North America, which has opened the discussion on the future potential of shale gas in Europe.
Although there is not a single, defined European viewpoint on shale gas exploration, the European Union have spent a great deal of time discussing introducing a new set of laws meant to regulate the exploration of shale gas in member states. However, early last year the European Commission stopped short of bringing in regulation, which many commentators were expecting, and instead launched so-called ‘minimum principles’. These basic standards are simply recommendations, leaving individual countries governments to legislate shale gas exploration on their own terms.
Shale gas exploration has been virtually outlawed in a number of European countries, including Bulgaria, France, Northern Ireland, with a range of other nations imposing restrictive laws intended to limit shale gas exploration. Poland and the United Kingdom are the two countries who most prominently support shale gas development in the EU.
Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to go “all out for shale’, with his statement being backed up by a recent announcement that Britain will now offer licences for shale gas exploration for the first time in around seven years. None of the new exploration sites will be in Scotland or Wales, as these two regions have imposed a moratorium on all shale gas activities.
The full article, along with all maps and graphs, is available in Issue 1 of Shale Gas International Magazine and can be found on page 25.