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This blog post was published under the 2010-2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Michael Fallon announces UK-Poland shale study

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Shale gas

European produced shale gas has the potential to contribute to energy security, deliver economic benefits and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However there is a lack of understanding about how much of this potential can be realised. This is why today we are announcing that the UK and Poland are commissioning independent analysis looking into these potential impacts specifically in our two countries and the implications for the wider EU. We expect this work to start shortly and to be published before the end of the year.

Events in the Ukraine have shown the importance of energy security for the EU. Currently, the EU imports 70% of its gas. And as Europe’s leaders recognised at the March European Council, the EU needs a long-term plan to move away from our dependence on imported fossil fuels.

The UK and Poland have led the way in Europe in calling for the EU to focus more on energy security concerns. In March 2014, Polish Prime Minister Tusk outlined his vision for an EU energy union, which contained important ideas for improving the EU’s energy security.

The UK agrees with Poland that in order to improve Europe’s energy security, we must take full advantage of those indigenous resources that could also help us in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

European shale gas exploration is at an early stage in the EU, and both countries are at the forefront of this new sector. Shale has the potential to enhance our energy security, boost competitiveness and help us reduce our carbon footprint. The potential growth through job creation and investment along the supply chain will also have a cumulative effect – supporting industries such as construction and transport, to end users like the chemicals industry. Potentially, it could place downward pressure on energy prices which would be welcomed by consumers and industry alike.

But this potential need not be exploited at the expense of the environment. It is essential that European shale gas developments are carried out safely, under robust regulatory frameworks. That is why both countries are fully committed to ensuring that the existing European environmental safeguards and domestic regulations are robustly implemented. We worked closely to ensure that the Commission’s proposals were proportionate and avoided adding any new bureaucracy to this emerging sector.

Shale gas alone will not solve the EU’s energy security concerns. We must also work to radically diversify our external sources and supply routes for natural gas, further strengthen the internal energy market, and address the barriers to investment for energy efficiency measures.

And it is important that all these measures are not taken in isolation from wider European energy and climate concerns. This is why we are both committed to working together to realise the potential of shale and enable it to contribute to the wider energy agenda.

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  1. Comment by Efo Ray posted on

    Sounds like political rhetorics to me...Hope I am allowed to think so!

  2. Comment by Michaela Smith posted on

    This blog is wrong on so many levels. Mr Patton cannot but know that his claims are unsound. Andrew Austin of iGas has admitted shale gas exploration (fracking) will NOT result in lower energy prices so why is this line still being peddled? It will NOT create jobs as specialized workers need to be brought in to do the job whereas the road repairs from the many, many truck movements will be born by the taxpayer. Not to mention the clean-up costs once the drillers leave. The Dutch taxpayer is footing a BILLION euros in earthquake damage to the province of Groningen where conventional gas drilling takes place. What will be the cost of earthquakes from fracking - infinitely higher risk - in the UK? Above all: NO shale gas exploration exists that is safe for the environment, the public and let's not forget the economy that is sustained by that selfsame environment. Water UK has said the UK's water system cannot sustain the volume of water used in fracking. Shale gas has been shown to go hand-in-hand with 20 times the greenhouse effect of CO2. Piling fallacy upon fallacy doesn't make your story any more credible ... In short: The EU does NOT need a plan to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels - strike out [imported] and leave "its dependence on FOSSIL fuels". Frankly, Mr Patton, shale gas is a boom and bust industry, a ponzi scheme. The only benefit to be derived is cash in the pockets of those with financial interests in the oil and gas sector. Which is most of the cabinet, isn't it?

    Please STOP trying to hoodwink the public. Politicians' stance on fracking will make or break them in the next elections.

  3. Comment by Dr Henry Adams posted on

    So you want to team UK up with Tusk/Poland - who strongly promote an increase in use of indigenous fossil fuels such as coal and shale gas (not energy saving & clean green renewables) as the solution to "energy security", when anyone uncompromised by a vested interest in fossil fuels can see this is obviously bad for carbon emissions:

    - UK investing in shale gas, CBM and UCG will increase global emissions by adding a new fossil fuel industry which will result in existing global fossil feedstocks we are now using such as coal and LNG being burnt elsewhere (e.g. by growing Eastern economies). Thus an addition not a replacement.

    - Numerous analyses have shown that there is likely to be insignificant UK consumer benefit from drop in prices (the reverse more likely - as better if we shift reliance on increasing fossil fuel prices to the decreasing prices of clean green renewables).

    - We will need less gas if we burn less heating our homes by insulating them better. But you are stalling this sensible option). Are you concerned that reducing UK demand for gas may reduce possible profits and share dividends from fracking, or expose the false "need" for fracking?

    - Isn't it about time you and DECC used a scientific evidence-based rationale unclouded by neoliberal ideology and the web of connections with the embedded fossil fuel industry and its associated City interests? And adopt solutions compatible with the pressing climate change need to leave 75 to 80% of existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground before adding yet more to the global total?