28 September 2012 21:29 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--European regulations on gas exploration and extraction need to be toughened if shale gas production were legalised in the region, a European Commission official said on Friday.
“From the analysis which has been done, a pretty clear conclusion that came out was that the current legislation, as it stands, would likely not be sufficient to properly address the risk management of shale gas, particularly in terms of the impact on water reserves,” Janez Potocnik, European Commission commissioner for the environment, said at the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) annual meeting.
The Commission produced three reports on shale gas in recent weeks: two on the environmental and climate-change-related risks of shale gas, and one on its economic potential.
Shale gas extraction has gained prominence in North America but remains controversial in Europe, with French president Francois Hollande recently vetoing extraction in the country.
The legalisation of shale gas mining remains under discussion in the Commission.
According to Potocnik, the Commission will internally discuss the issue at the start of October, followed by a discussion with member state representatives on 16 October. At the end of the month, European Parliament is expected to hear the views of the Commission’s environmental committee on the risks and potential of the sector.
“The sector is potentially promising, but on the other hand, it has more side effects and consequences than normal gas production. The two aren’t entirely comparable,” Potocnik said.
Solvay CEO Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, who also spoke at the Cefic assembly, stopped short of endorsing shale gas but said the disparity between gas prices in Europe and in North America did currently present issues for chemical companies in the region.
“Gas prices in Europe are probably five times more expensive... than in North America,” he said. “This is creating a big challenge for users in Europe.”
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