January 23, 2012 / 3:35 PM / 9 years ago

IEA to make shale gas regulatory recommendations

GENEVA, Jan 23 (Reuters) - The International Energy Agency (IEA) is preparing recommendations for countries to regulate the controversial shale gas industry, to be published in its global energy report in the autumn.

“If you’re going to have global gas, you have to have global rules,” IEA Deputy Executive Director Richard Jones said at a conference in Geneva on Monday.

The development of shale gas extraction is a potential game-changer in world energy markets, offering ample supplies in markets that could otherwise tighten in coming years.

But the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, technology used to extract shale gas requires large amounts of water and chemicals, and concerns about contamination of water supplies and other potential environmental problems have led some governments to ban its use or put moratoriums in place.

“We feel that a number of countries inside and outside the IEA are interested in improving these technologies, and this is something where we’re working with them to collectively see what rules make sense. But we’re not talking about trying to negotiate any kind of a contract, at least not at this stage,” Jones said.

Instead, the IEA will look at responsible procedures to minimise the environmental damage of the technology in regions where shale gas exploration has potential and then make regulatory recommendations to member states and countries with which the IEA has cooperation agreements.

“The United States is a prominent IEA member country that is pursuing unconventional gas and is already grappling with these issues. Some other countries within the IEA ... and also non-member countries with which we have cooperative relations such as China are looking at this question,” Jones said. (Writing by Henning Gloystein in London, editing by Jane Baird)

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