Spain Shale Gas Reserves Estimated to Equal 39 Years of Demand

Spain, a country that’s yet to produce its first shale gas, probably has enough resources of the fuel to satisfy domestic demand for at least 39 years, according to the nation’s Council of Mining Engineers.

The estimated reserves of natural gas trapped in shale rock are about 50 trillion cubic feet, Fernando Pendas, a water and oil geology professor at University of Oviedo, said today at a briefing in Madrid to present the council’s findings. The estimate could double once exploration studies are finalized and more is discovered through breaking open rock using hydraulic fracturing, knowns as fracking.

“If we don’t allow fracking, Spain would have missed out on a huge opportunity,” Pendas said. As many 100 companies have applied for permits to begin exploration using fracking in Spain during the past five years.

The most advanced shale-gas exploration projects are located in the Basque-Cantabrian basin in the north of Spain and benefit from proximity to water sources, Angel Camara, co-writer of the study who is a chemical engineering and fuels professor at Madrid’s Polytechnic university.

The environmental success of shale gas production, which has been targeted by environmental protests in Spanish regions including Cantabria, will “entirely depend on good operator practices,” Camara said. “If those are fulfilled, there is no reason to fear.”