EU parliament panels urge 'robust rules' for shale gas fracking

19 September 2012 18:13  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--EU member states need “robust rules” to regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the exploration of shale gas, two European Parliament committees urged in non-binding resolutions on Wednesday.

Member states should be cautious in proceeding with fracking, pending further analysis on whether EU-level regulations of this field are adequate, the parliament’s energy and environment committees said in separate resolutions.

While the European Commission previously concluded that EU rules adequately cover licensing and early exploration and production of shale gas, a thorough analysis of EU regulation on unconventional fossil fuels is needed, given the possible expansion of their exploitation, the parliamentarians said.

Under current EU law, each of the 27 memember states has the right to decide for itself on whether to exploit shale gas.

The parliamentarians also urged member states to learn from the US experience “with a view to using environmentally-friendly industrial processes and best available technologies." 

In using fracking within the EU, companies should disclose which chemicals are used, and they should ensure that as much water as possible is recycled, they added.

According to the parliament’s energy committee, domestic gas consumption is currently on the rise in the EU, with imports projected to reach an annual 450bn cubic metres by 2035.

New sources of natural gas could help diversity of supply, but other measures are needed to reduce dependence on imports, such as boosting take-up of renewables and energy efficiency, the committee added.

The European Parliament is expected to adopt the resolutions next month.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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