The European Union has enough gas trapped in shale to free the bloc from reliance on Russian energy supplies for about 28 years if only the constituent countries are prepared to extract it.
The CHART OF THE DAY ranks EU countries by recoverable shale-gas reserves expressed in years of domestic consumption, led by Sweden with 250 years, according to Bloomberg calculations using U.S. Energy Information Agency data of 10 European countries. Among them, France and Bulgaria have outright bans on extraction, while the Netherlands and Germany are among states that have issued moratoriums.
The 28-nation bloc, which looks to Russia for about a third of its oil and gas needs, is discussing ways to diversify its energy sources following Russian threats to cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine, a former Soviet republic engulfed in separatist violence. As EU nations debate the technology’s effect on the environment, the U.S. has used fracking to become the world’s largest producer of natural gas.
“Effective exploitation of these assets could significantly increase Europe’s energy security,” said Zhenbo Hou, an analyst at the Overseas Development Institute in London, in a telephone interview. “It’s possible to see the Ukrainian conflict as a catalyst for fracking momentum in Europe, but I still see it as a long shot.”
European environmentalists have been able to corral efforts to expand fracking, which liberates trapped gas by blasting shale rock with a mixture of water and chemicals.
Poland, with 63 wells completed, is the only EU state so far that expects to begin commercial production from one well this year, according to the country’s environment minister. The U.K. government, while supportive of fracking, has faced popular opposition.