AAPG Middle East Region, Shale Gas Evolution Symposium

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How Sweet is European Shale? A Story about the Uncertain Potential, Problematic Recovery and Public Concerns of Shale Gas Development in Europe


Currently, shale gas exploration and exploitation in Europe is in an ambiguous arena. Poland once actively pursued shale gas, motivated by the desire to remain independent of Russian gas. Shale is explored and drilled in England where proponents are looking for a secure energy supply by developing shale as a reliable and affordable domestic source of energy. For most other European countries, perceptions towards oil & gas extraction from shales are ambiguous. Concerns about environmental footprint have motivated most European countries in postponing or banning shale gas exploitation. Production of gas and oil from shales has proven to be a game changer for the energy market in North America, and most wells have been drilled in the U.S. However, most potential oil & gas resources are located elsewhere. Total potential resource located in the many European shale basins may equal the resources in the U.S. However, where U.S. shale operations have become more and more efficient, attempts to commercially recover gas from Polish shales have not (yet) been successful. Public concerns are mainly related to impacts on local environments and global climate footprint. While focus is on the subsurface effects of hydraulic fracturing and CO2 emissions, recent studies suggest a bigger role for well construction and methane emissions in determining impacts and risks. This presentation covers both geological and environmental aspects of potential shale gas exploitation in Europe, focussing on key lessons learned from North America, current status in Europe and main showstoppers hampering development.