Shale gas will do little to boost European Union’s energy security dilemma by solving Europe’s energy supply security problems – this is the main conclusion of a new report released on 13 November by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC). The EASAC study also argues that there are no scientific grounds to ban fracking and best practices have “greatly reduced the environmental footprint of shale gas fracturing”, which means that risks connected with the production of shale gas can be appropriately managed. These potential risks can specifically be managed by the replacement of potentially harmful chemicals and the full disclosure of all the additives used in the process of the so-called fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and also by the implementation of regulatory systems aiming to minimize the negative impact on environment, health and safety that are already in place in most countries. The highly respected EASAC is comprised of the national science academies of the 28 EU member states.
However, the report also stresses that the “uncertain” potential for shale gas extraction in the European Union, which is due to the availability of inadequate geological data on the accessibility of gas. Though the largest reserves are reportedly located in Poland and France, with 4.19 and 3.88 trillion cubic meters respectively, when compared with the USA’s 16 trillion cubic meters in the United States, the EASAC is effectively expressing doubts whether shale gas can one day be exploited on a significant scale on the continent. In addition to the problem of rather limited reserves, there is also the issue of the European geology, which is “more complicated” than in the U.S., with rock formations “older” and “more fractured” which has “implications for technical and economic viability of gas extraction,” the report adds. In other words, only a small part of the reserves in Poland can be seen as economically recoverable, while the latest geological studies even deny the supposed presence of gas in the Paris basin.