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The issue of energy security is at the heart of the European debate. At the end of a two-day summit held in Brussels on March 20-21, Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, said that the European Union (EU) plans to reduce the dependency on Russian energy supplies.

Among the possible measures aimed to this change, Herman Van Rompuy mentioned improving energy efficiency, diversifying the EU’s supply routes and expanding the share of renewable energy sources, creating of a united energy network, and researching the possibility to import shale gas from the USA. Consequently, European politicians started discussing the feasibility of shale gas extraction in England, Germany, Hungary, Poland and other countries of the EU, which may potentially replace Russian gas.

However, politicians and experts have expressed their concerns about the opportunity to efficiently replace Russian gas with supplies from other countries in the next few years. Ernest Moniz, the US Secretary of Energy, stated that America will be able to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe no earlier than in two years; and Tord Lien, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, said that liquefaction of natural gas and delivery of LNG by sea will be much more costly than pipe delivery.

Furthermore, the future of shale gas extraction in Europe is obscure. Injection of chemicals into the ground, a part of the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) used to extract shale gas, may pollute underground waters and later lead to many diseases, including cancer. Franking is banned in France and Bulgaria, and a temporary ban on shale gas mining has been introduced in Czech Republic.

In September 2012, Germany recommended banning hydraulic fracturing near drinking water sources and mineral wells. In addition to that, shale gas extraction in Europe may be too costly and make such projects unprofitable.

Oras Tynkkynen, a Member of the Parliament of Finland, representing the Green League, said: “To my knowledge there is widespread consensus on the need to tackle energy dependency.”

“There are considerable concerns and risks related to fracking shale gas. If environmental and health concerns can be addressed, shale gas can be one alternative – and domestic – source of gas in Europe,” he specified.


The gLAWcal Team

Monday, 19 May 2014

(Source: Eurasia Review)