European Commission rules out EU shale gas boom

May 05, 2015 12:00 AM

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic ruled out on Tuesday any possibility of a boom in shale gas exploration in Europe in the future.

Speaking at the opening session of the EU Energy Security Conference, Sefcovic cited Europe’s geological conditions, population density and public environmental concerns as the main obstacles preventing widespread shale gas exploration.

"I think that we have seen over the last years that, simply, geological conditions in Europe are different, that we are more densely populated than in the States and our citizens are much more environmentally conscious also because the potential sites could be much closer to densely populated areas," Sevcovic said.

Shale gas is extracted through an ecologically-controversial method known as fracking, which involves the high-pressure injection of water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to extract oil and natural gas from shale formations.

"I personally – maybe I will be mistaken in the future, but do not expect such a boom as we have in the States because of our geological conditions and also because of the size of Europe and the size of the United States."

Environmentalists say that the chemicals used in fracking contaminate groundwater and the pressure used in the process causes earthquakes.

In January 2014, the European Commission outlined recommendations for EU member states to ensure that shale gas production is carried out in accordance with appropriate climate and environmental safeguards. The recommendations envisaged that a site for drilling could only be selected after ensuring that there would be no possibility for leaks of pollutants into groundwater, soil or air.

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