* No EU market lift-off without reducing size, number of
* More productive fracking techniques being developed
By Nina Chestney
OXFORD, July 12 Success for shale gas extraction
in Europe will hinge on developing more efficient techniques and
a more targeted approach to fracking, Andrew Gould, chairman of
UK gas producer BG Group PLC, said on Thursday.
Until recently, shale gas extracting firms have used a
"blitzing technique" whereby they frack as much as they can in
the hope of opening gas to the well, Gould told delegates at a
resource scarcity conference in Oxford.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves extracting
natural gas trapped in tight layered rock formations by
injecting high-pressure water, sand and chemicals.
"Everyone is working on this and eventually they will
identify the most productive parts of shale and only frack where
they know they going to produce (gas)," he said.
"Then the size and number of fracks will eventually
decrease. If that doesn't happen, the shale gas industry in
places like Europe will never take off," Gould added.
The world is seeking cheap new shale gas supplies from the
United States, and oil executives and regulators are also
looking at how to exploit potentially massive shale gas reserves
in other parts of the world.
Fracking has been criticised for its potential to
contaminate groundwater, degrade air quality and release harmful
chemicals into the ground.
As a result, these effects are being studied and some
countries have suspended or banned shale gas fracking.
Petroleum engineers say that shale oil and gas reserves of
vast potential stretch across Europe.
European Union member Poland is making a large bet on shale
gas as it could help the country's coal-reliant economy meet the
challenges of the EU's climate policy.
Poland said last week it expects companies to drill at least
41 more wells in the country this year.
As larger oil companies move into the shale gas market,
fracking techniques to extract the gas are changing, said BG's
Britain may have enough offshore shale gas to make it a
global producer, energy experts believe, though only around 10
to 20 percent of total reserves are currently deemed
Although production costs are still very high, new U.S.
technology could eventually make reserves commercially viable,
experts said in April.
BG Group said in May it would pause its U.S. shale gas
expansion due to low gas prices in the United States.
(Editing by Jason Neely)