FRANKFURT, April 2 Germany risks losing its
competitive edge in energy generation if it is too quick to
reject fracking as an option in drilling for gas, European Union
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told a German newspaper.
"I advise Germany not to give its final 'no' to fracking.
Otherwise it will lose important competencies," Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung quoted Oettinger as saying in an interview
published on Tuesday.
Fracking involves pumping vast quantities of water and
chemicals at high pressure through drill holes, which together
with vertical drilling helps prop open shale rocks to release
Companies including ExxonMobil and BASF's oil and
gas arm Wintershall are pushing to explore
possibilities for fracking in Germany, and industrial gas
consumers say they could benefit as they need a secure supply at
Critics say fracking could increase seismic risks and
pollute drinking water, and with a national election scheduled
for September, both the government and opposition parties are
seeking to avoid controversy on the issue.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has voiced reservations, saying
risks to people and the environment needed to be evaluated
Environment Minister Peter Altmaier, from Merkel's Christian
Democrats, has said he wants to limit fracking and ban it in
areas where drinking water is protected.
"We are having a very emotional discussion in Germany that
effectively leads to the end of research. That goes not only for
fracking but also for geothermal energy and carbon capture and
storage," Oettinger said in the interview.
He said Germany's economy was currently so strong that the
country risked putting off necessary projects, including
"That will come back to bite Germany in the next decade. We
have to be willing to accept certain impositions and take risks
if we want to remain competitive," he said.