Shale Gas Europe – Where are the reserves and developments?
Photo by SkyTruth
Although much fracking has been done in North America, Europe is not far behind in developing projects to tap into its shale gas reserves. Poland plans to remove much of its dependence on Russia for energy when it produces shale gas, projected to be profitable by 2014. It appears that Poland has large reserves of shale gas under its countryside, possibly the largest reserves in Europe. Much of this gas, almost four trillion metres, is in the Baltic Sea basin. There are also Polish Reserves in Poslaskie Voivodeship and Lublin Voivodeship.
Poland is not the only European country that is believed to be sitting upon mass shale gas reserves. Norway and Ukraine are thought to have large reserves, and the countries are driven by the success of the United States, to bring its energy dependence under control, as much as is possible. It is believed that Ukraine has the third largest shale gas reserves in Europe. Scandinavia’s reserves, like those of France, tend to appear near large population centers, which makes extracting the shale gas more problematic.
Bulgaria, Switzerland and France have reserves of shale gas beneath their lands, but they banned fracking, the mining process by which shale gas is extracted, because of concerns for the environment. Small deposits of shale gas in the Northern United Kingdom are not fully tapped, due to small earth tremors in the area. Other areas in Britain also appear promising. The viability of fracking is being weighed in Germany, which has its own sizable estimates for its own shale gas reserves. There is also research showing that the Netherlands has some shale gas reserves.
Which companies are developing shale gas in Europe?
There has been exploration in Austria for shale gas, near Vienna. In Hungary, the first shale gas wells were drilled in 2009. In Clare Basin, Ireland, an option was granted over a reserve in a 495 square kilometre area.
Dutch Shell has researched the Alum Shale of Southern Sweden as a potential for shale gas extraction, but as of 2011, it had been determined that there are not enough viable reserves. Lithuania has been exploring for economically viable areas in which fracking would be commercially profitable. They believe there will be shale oil among the reserves that can be tapped, but it will not be anything that would have a major effect on importation of energy from other countries like Russia.
It appears that as a whole, the areas of Europe do not have the dense reserves that may be found in North America. But with exploration having started in Europe at a later date than in the United States and Canada, there is still a chance to discover some previously unknown reserves.