The outlook for unconventional gas production in Europe is “bleak” because of growing opposition to drilling technology that has boosted output in North America, according to the International Energy Agency.
The production of unconventional gas, which represented 16 percent of global production of the fuel in 2011, will continue to expand, led by the U.S., the Paris-based agency said in its medium-term gas market report today. Europe and other regions face challenges including lack of infrastructure and environmental concerns in Europe, the IEA said.
“Poland remains the European showcase that could ultimately reverse the trend, if significant resources are developed in an environmentally sound manner and trigger some positive changes for Poland’s economy,” the IEA said. “Should the Polish example not bring positive results, this could deter unconventional gas developments in Europe for many years.”
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the practice of pumping water, sand and chemicals into wells to extract gas from shale rock, helped the U.S. overtake Russia as the world’s biggest producer of the fuel. The global potential of shale resources has been hindered since France and Bulgaria banned the practice. The U.K. and Spain remain neutral or positive to unconventional gas, the IEA said.
In April 2011, the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said that Poland has 187 trillion cubic feet of shale-gas, enough to supply the country for 300 years. The Polish Geological Institute said in March that the eastern European nation’s reserves may fall short of the EIA’s estimates and be sufficient for more than 50 years.
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