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Shale Gas in Europe

  • Date Submitted: 05/12/2011 06:31 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 45.3 
  • Words: 475
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Which future for shale gas?

! Shale gas has known a recent boom in the US. This is partly due to the development of new technologies enabling horizontal drillings and the hydraulic fracturing. The economic background has enabled the rising production of non conventional gas: the drillings are relatively cheap, the country is less dense in terms of population (enabling to minimize local tensions with the population), and environmental rules are more flexible than in Europe. Furthermore the production has been subsidized with some tax incentives according to an interview given by Roland Vially from the IFP renewable energies department. With an extremely different background in Europe, the shale gas production seems compromised! Shale gas raises attention of companies on producing it in Europe. Some basins in North and East Europe could be exploited, even in South France where Total recently bought the exploitation rights. But with exploitation costs around 5 times as expensive as in the USA, can the production reach a viable exploitation? Shale gas may have sometimes energy efficiency close to zero, sometimes negative, because you need more energy to produce it than you will get in reward. Furthermore, you need 4 barrels of water to produce one barrel oil equivalent of LNG. And the water gets polluted, which can become an issue in European countries where the population is dense and depends on the quality of local water sources. So can we really speak about a gas revolution? The economic models assume that shale gas production could be viable if the oil price oscillates around 100$/barrel (which is likely to happen...) and if the cost of the ton of
CO2 keeps a low price (less than 50$/ton). These two conditions may not be present at the same time before 20 or 30 years.
! However the recent events in Japan might change this. The risk of a nuclear meltdown in Japan after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered public protests in Europe against atomic power...

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