January 27, 2012 / 8:50 AM / in 7 years

ExxonMobil to press on with German shale gas

FRANKFURT, Jan 27 (Reuters) - U.S. ExxonMobil will continue to push for unconventional gas exploration in Germany alongside conventional gas production, despite scepticism over new drilling methods, its Europe chief said on Friday.

“(Germany) is most definitely an interesting market. We cannot achieve the energy strategy shift without gas,” Gernot Kalkoffen, Exxon Mobil Central Europe head, said in an interview with the Handelsblatt business daily.

“The gas infrastructure is good and gas is in demand in Germany,” he added.

ExxonMobil said last week Germany was estimated to have 827 billion cubic metres of gas resources, of which 80 percent are in so-called unconventional deposits, citing official German figures

The company was awaiting research findings due in March on whether the fracking extraction technique for shale gas could harm groundwater, he said. Parliamentary hearings have also focused on the risk.

The development of shale gas extraction is controversial worldwide as it requires large amounts of water and chemicals. Environmental concerns have led some governments to ban its use or allow more time to study it.

Fracking is high pressure drilling to prop open shale rocks to release gas trapped underground which allows unconventional gas to be released. own as conventional gas streams more freely, but its supply is finite.

Kalkoffen said early work in the populous North-Rhine Westphalia state would be pursued to extract untapped gas. There was a 50 percent chance that fracking might not even be needed, he said.

Shale gas is potentially available in six of Germany’s 16 states.

Germany relies mainly on imported pipeline gas for heating, transport and industrial applications. It would like to reduce its dependency on Russia’s 40 percent market share.

Gas can also play a big role in complementing politically desired renewable energies, away from fossil fuels and nuclear, which Germany is ditching faster than planned.

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