Yale e360 story by me about shale gas mining in Europe, and the controversial technique known as “fracking”. Excerpt:
Blackpool, in the North West of England, is best known as a traditional seaside holiday town, a place famous for its 518-foot tower (modeled after the Eiffel in Paris), its grand ballroom, and old-fashioned fun, like donkey riding on the beach. More recently, though, it has become known for something else: shale gas drilling.
Four miles from the seafront, in a series of farmers’ fields, a company called Cuadrilla Resources is putting down some of Europe’s first shale gas wells. UK-based Cuadrilla is hopeful that the Bowland Shale — the geological formation that runs through the area — will eventually yield millions of cubic feet of gas, possibly as much as 10 percent of the UK’s total needs. But environmental groups are raising alarms about the potential impact on water supplies, the landscape, and the UK’s wider energy policy.
Across Europe, a host of energy companies are exploring for unconventional deposits in what some are comparing to the great oil and gas rushes of the past. Exxon Mobil has bought up concessions in Germany and Poland. Shell is active in Sweden and Ukraine. Chevron is in Poland. Total is in Denmark and France. And Cuadrilla is also exploring in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
Though skeptical not long ago, the industry now is increasingly confident about the size of reserves in Europe, where shale deposits underlie most of the European Union’s 27 states. “It’s gone from people saying, ‘You’re crazy, why are you moving to Poland?’ to ‘Oh, that is the hottest play in Europe,’” says John Buggenhagen, head of exploration at Dublin-based San Leon Energy, which has several concessions in Poland.
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