British minister says EU shale gas would curb reliance on Russia

HOUSTON Mon May 5, 2014 6:45pm EDT

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HOUSTON (Reuters) - European countries should make a push to start producing shale gas if they hope to reduce reliance on Russian natural gas, Britain's energy minister said on Monday.

Many European Union countries have yet to allow or encourage the extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which uses a mix of pressurized water, sand an chemicals to unlock hydrocarbons from rocky deposits.

"There are a number of European countries that are extremely dependent on Russian gas," Britain's Minister of State for Business and Energy Michael Fallon told Reuters.

"Europe has to reduce that dependence, to improve its connectivity, to look at encouraging more diverse sources of supply of gas ... and more generally to encourage indigenous sources of production of at least shale gas."

Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea four weeks ago has frustrated the West, which has imposed limited sanctions against some Russian individuals. Tougher sanctions may not be an option for Europe because of its heavy use of Russian gas, analysts say.

Though less than 1 percent of its gas supplies come from Russia, the United Kingdom imports a considerable amount of gas and started moving to tap shale resources two years ago.

Fracking, though opposed by many environmental groups concerned about water supplies, has transformed the energy outlook of the United States and trimmed its reliance on foreign oil.

"In five years time I certainly hope we will be in the production phase," Fallon said.

He said major companies including Total, Centrica and GDF Suez have expressed interest in British shale gas.

Fallon added that the country is working to encourage crude oil output from the final third of the continental shelf of the north sea.

"We are putting in place a new regulatory regime, we are reviewing the fiscal regime," he said. "We've only got two-thirds of the barrels out and we've got one third to go," he said.

(Reporting By Terry Wade; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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Comments (1)
DellStator wrote:
I did the math and came up with Russian gas providing 7% of the EuroZones total energy supply. Lately ran across a US State Dept Press Release putting it at 6%.
Come on folks, you don’t need to frack to make up a lousy 7%. Turn thermostats down 5 degrees (F) in the winter, encourage big gas users to turn to other fuels with tax incentives, and double the tax incentive if the conversion is done with local company, double down on wind gen project, pyrolosis plants to turn trash into liquid and natural gas (import US trash, we make more than anyone, and have no idea what to do with it, we are too stupid to turn it into energy), just take out water bottles, Palestinians are turning them into fuel oil in backyard pyrolosis units for crying out loud.
Frack, frack, frack, hype, hype, hype. Big energy hard at work getting bigger. Heh, enlightened greed, triple tax break if Exxon, Shell, etc. converts a gas powered factory etc to a co gen with oil backup to be used at times of high gas demand – now that we do in the states.

May 05, 2014 12:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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