Europe Should Rethink Shale

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from The Wall Street Journal,

The crisis in Ukraine has intensified calls from industry and political leaders—including senior U.S. officials—for Europe to develop its own shale industry.

Proponents hope doing so will help wean the Continent off gas imported from Russia, which currently exports around 30% of the region’s gas needs, and shield Europe’s energy supply from geopolitical disputes with its Eastern neighbor.

President Barack Obama, speaking at a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday, also urged European leaders to find ways to become less dependent on Russian energy and consider its own energy sources in the wake of the crisis.

“This entire event, I think, has pointed to the need for Europe to look at how it can further diversify its energy sources,” he said.

With 470 trillion cubic feet of potentially recoverable shale-gas reserves, Europe has around 80% of the resource available in the U.S., according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates. But some of its biggest potential gas producers, including France and Germany, have banned fracking, the technology used to extract gas, for fear of potential water contamination. Residents’ environmental worries have slowed exploration elsewhere.

Europe remains only in the early stage of shale exploration, while U.S. shale production has surged to such a level that it has lowered natural-gas prices in America and reduced its reliance on energy imports.

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