EU Shale Output Won’t Make Europe Self-Sufficient, Study Shows

Shale-gas production in the European Union won’t make the region self-sufficient in natural gas, according to a study by the EU Joint Research Centre.

“The best-case scenario for shale-gas development in Europe is one in which declining conventional production can be replaced and import dependence maintained at a level around 60 percent,” the JRC’s Energy Security Unit said in the report published today in Brussels.

The EU is analyzing the adequacy of its legislation of unconventional fossil fuels as companies such as Chevron Corp. (CVX) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) started drilling exploration wells in countries including Poland, the U.K. and Germany.

Environmental groups have raised concern that hydraulic fracturing, the process of blasting sand, water and chemicals into shale rock to release trapped fuel, risks earthquakes and polluting water supply. The process, known as fracking, has made the U.S. the world’s largest natural-gas producer. France is among EU nations that have banned fracking.

Extracting shale gas imposes a larger environmental footprint than conventional gas development, according to a separate study for the European Commission led by AEA Technology Plc published today.

A third study, which analyzes the impact on climate and was also led by AEA Technology, showed that shale gas produced in the EU would release more greenhouse gases than conventional natural gas.

Emissions would be “less than imported gas from outside the EU, be it via pipeline or by LNG due to the impacts on emissions from long-distance gas transport,” the European Commission said in a statement today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ewa Krukowska in Brussels at ekrukowska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net

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