Shale gas: EU countries need robust rules on fracking, European Parliament committees say

Written by on September 19, 2012 in Bulgaria, Europe, News - No comments

The emergence of exploration for shale oil and shale gas in some EU countries should be backed up with “robust regulatory regimes” according to separate non-binding resolutions adopted in recent days by the European Parliament’s energy committee (on industrial aspects) and the denvironment eommittee (on health and environment aspects).

European Union states should be “cautious” pending further analysis of whether EU level regulation is adequate, according to environment MEPs.

Each EU country has the right to decide for itself on whether to exploit shale gas, said the energy committee. EU countries should have robust rules on all shale gas activities, including hydraulic fracturing of rock (“fracking”). MEPs also advise the EU to learn from US experiences, with a view to using environmentally-friendly industrial processes and “best available technologies”.

The European Commission previously concluded that EU rules adequately cover licensing and early exploration and production of shale gas but “a thorough analysis” of EU regulation on unconventional fossil fuels is needed, given the possible expansion of their exploitation, environment committee MEPs said.

Water and chemicals

Special plans for water use should accompany any fracking activities and as much water as possible should be recycled, according to the environment committee resolution. Companies must disclose which chemicals are used to comply with EU legislation, it adds.

Energy (in)dependence

Domestic gas consumption is currently on the rise in the EU, with imports projected to reach an annual 450 billion cubic metres by 2035. New sources of natural gas could help diversity of supply but other measures are needed to reduce dependence on imports, such as boosting take-up of renewables and energy efficiency, the energy committee said.

The two resolutions are scheduled to be put to the European Parliament plenary in October.

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