All the latest Shale Gas News
To prepare for the busy winter season ahead of us, here’s our round up of what’s been happening across Europe lately. The next few months could see some major developments in Brussels and across national capitals. A look back to be ready for what’s ahead!
One thing is clear across the board – science and academia are increasingly central to decision making around shale gas. Several key reports have been published over the summer. The overriding conclusion: shale gas could have an important part to play in addressing Europe’s acute energy challenges.
Below Shale Gas Europe looks at some of the latest news from across Europe
The EU’s Unconventional Hydrocarbons Network met in June to discuss developments in its research and analysis of exploration projects across Europe. The Network was launched in July 2014 and brings together scientists and academics, industry and civil society. The Network met again in November and more comprehensive discussions on its achievements will take place at its annual conference in early 2016.
The European Commission is progressing in its review of the January 2014 Recommendation on unconventional hydrocarbons. While it was expected to present conclusions over the summer, delays to several studies that will support the review mean they are more likely to be published later. DG Environment recently published a roadmap which lays out in detail the possible next steps.
The UK is moving ahead with shale gas development following the General Election earlier this year. In August, the Government granted 27 onshore blocks to 12 operators hoping to develop unconventional resources as part of the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round. A second group of 132 blocks will be further assessed with results expected to be published later this year.
The Government has also published new guidelines that foresee the fast-track of shale gas planning applications through a new administrative process. The UK Secretary of State for Communities and the Local Government will work together with the Planning Inspectorate to prioritise oil & gas applications that are being dealt with by local councils within a binding timeframe of 16 weeks.
Additionally, secondary legislation is expected to be published in the coming months. It will build on the Infrastructure Act adopted earlier this year, which simplified the procedure to obtain the right to use underground land 300m and below to develop oil and gas. This should create a favourable environment for businesses, and hopefully trigger more exploration within the UK. Commenting on these developments Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd noted that shale gas could bring economic growth, new jobs and increased energy security to the UK.
The UK Task Force on Shale Gas, established in 2014 to provide transparent and impartial advice on shale gas developments, has published several reports. The first, published in June, stressed that rigorous monitoring is key to ensure drilling is carried out to the highest standard of safety to protect local communities and the environment. The second, published in October, concluded that fracking for shale gas in the UK should be pursued as an alternative to coal as a bridge to a low-carbon future.
We’re expecting another report at the end of the year which will examine the economics of any potential shale gas industry in the UK, including community benefits and compensation.
Germany has also been pushing to finalise its draft law on regulating the exploration of shale gas that was submitted by the Federal Government in April 2015. The Bundestag (German parliament) went through a first reading in June, but the second reading has been postponed until late autumn due to the summer recess and the need for the coalition government to discuss additional provisions. It is expected to be finalised in the coming months, before being enforced later in 2016.
Feeding into these debates are several academic and scientific papers. A position paper published in June by Germany’s National Academy of Science and Engineering (Acatech) stressed that a general ban on hydraulic fracturing cannot be justified on the basis of scientific and technical evidence. The paper presents a catalogue of best practices that ensure maximum safety of hydraulic fracturing operations and reiterates the need to conduct pilot projects in close cooperation with industry, the scientific community, relevant authorities and, most importantly, the public – an essential factor in building trust.