US Revolution, European Evolution
The well-documented success of shale gas in the US has prompted other regions around the world, including Europe, to consider the potential of shale gas to transform energy markets. However, a number of substantial issues have prevented a replication of the rapid growth seen in US shale gas production. In Europe, Government attitudes and policy vary considerably, consequently the effect shale gas production will have over European energy markets will differ from country to country, contingent on the country’s domestic energy strategy, anticipated growth in gas demand, level of import reliance and both the societal and monetary cost of alternative energy supplies. In addition, the feasibility and rate of shale gas development in Europe will depend on a number of factors, including: the geology and resource potential; energy prices; infrastructure; regulation; gas demand; and environmental and social concerns.
Environmental and Social Concerns
US shale development has prompted significant environmental and social concerns, including: water contamination; induced seismicity; noise pollution; land usage; and health risks. Social and political acceptance in Europe will be much harder to achieve than in the US as the consequences of production in densely populated areas are far more pressing issues. Previous human exploitation of natural resources, for example coal, can add an additional complexity, as environmental conditions have already been altered. In addition, controversies such as those at Preese Hall near Blackpool in the UK, will not help sentiment, where two small tremors were triggered by hydraulic fracturing.
The full article, by Dr Andrew Sowter and David Gee, is available in Issue 4 of Shale Gas International Magazine and can be found on page 39.