In recent years, potential EU shale gas production has become a more visible topic. Driven by the shale gas boom in the US, the tension between Ukraine and Russia and the growing dependency of the EU on gas imports, a significant number of European stakeholders believe that this indigenous source should be high on the European energy agenda. Shale gas has led to controversial debates regarding its environmen- tal impacts. In comparison to the US, the European geological conditions are quite different. The first appraisal wells have been drilled in Poland and the UK, however the exploration phase is still at an initial stage and therefore it is likely that commer- cial flows from EU shale gas will not be delivered within the next few years.
As the exploration of shale gas is currently not as mature as for conventional gas, estimations of reserves are quite diverse. EIA estimates European technically recov- erable shale gas resources at around 13,000bcm (143,000TWh) whereas Pöyry’s estimates are more conservative with figures ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 bcm (88,000 – 110,000TWh) in their “Some Shale Gas” and “Boom Shale Gas” scenar- ios. These figures can be compared with the annual European gas demand (449bcm/ 4,939TWh in 2013) andUS recoverable resources (around 18,800bcm 1) ).
DK NL DE SE ES UK FR PL
EIA 2013 – Europe
Pöyry – EU 28 Shale Gas Boom
Pöyry – EU 28 Some Shale Gas
Figure 5.24: Technically recoverable shale gas resources in the EU (own depiction based on Pöyry 2013 “Macroeconomic Effects of European Shale Gas Production”)
Figure 5.25: Technically recoverable shale gas in EU (source Pöyry “Some Shale Gas” scenario)
The term “technically recoverable” refers to the volume of shale gas that theoretical- ly could be extracted with current technologies 2) taking into account shale mineral- ogy, reservoir properties and geological complexities. Most of this technically recoverable shale gas can be found in France, Germany, UK, Poland and Sweden. The EU is far from having a clear legal framework regarding fracking. Due to political, historical and geographical differences European Member States have very different positions on shale gas. For example France and Bulgaria have taken measures preventing exploration and production whereas appraisal wells have already been drilled in Poland and the UK. In parallel some Member States are working on estab- lishing a national consensus on a legislative framework covering fracking and the associated environmental impacts.
1) EIA 2013 2) Pöyry, Macroeconomics Effects of European Shale Gas Production, page 15, November 2013