mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
EU and UK Scrap over Shale


The UK is sitting on a bounty of shale, but the country is finding it exceedingly difficult to imitate America’s success with the resource. NIMBY-ism and misguided green concerns are stalling exploratory well drilling, but the Spectator reports that Brussels is also holding the country’s shale ambitions back:

Various environmental non-governmental organisations are trying to use the European Union to stop fracking. In a position paper put out last year, they declared that ‘the development of unconventional gas within the EU runs counter to EU treaty obligations’.

The secretary general of the NGO that authored that position paper, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), was allowed to sit in on a recent ministerial meeting of the EU’s Environmental Council and speak out against fracking. The Spectator writes, “If the [EEB] got its way, shale gas exploration in Britain and other EU states would be caught up in years of red tape.” The EEB’s presence at this recent council meeting could be a sign of future anti-shale policy from Brussels.

The EU has already tried the renewable energy path, and its member states are reeling from the high electricity prices and strained budgets that have come as a result of heavy government subsidies. Britain’s relationship with the EU is already strained, and this disagreement over fracking will only drive the two sides further apart. That’s a shame, because for all of its flaws, the EU still has value for the UK—and Britain’s shale gas certainly has value for Europe’s environment.

[EU and UK image courtesy of Shutterstock]

Features Icon
show comments
  • Thirdsyphon

    Part of the problem might be the UK’s geology, which is as twisty and fractured as China’s. This compares very badly to the neat, flat rock layers found in much of the United States. If you’re an energy company with a limited amount of capital to invest in gas extraction, you’ll almost certainly invest it here instead of there.

    • rheddles

      True, unless you were British.

      And the only value identified by WRM for the UK remaining in the EU is that the Japanese firms in the UK might find costs for entry into EU markets rise. The UK could modify this by joining a common market with, say Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US and then negotiating with the EU. You could call it the Anglo Union.

      • Pete

        I like that idea.

        An Anglo Union would bury the morbid EU economically, not to mention culturally and militarily, and it could easily compete with the so-called BRICs.

      • avery12

        This is such a great idea. I don’t understand why Britain has not already pursued the potential in this route. Common language, heritage of common law, easing the path to a common market. Have we not learned here at via meadia that citizens of countries sharing historical connections continue to associate with each other? Then, as you say, the anglo block negotiates with the Continent.
        Also, full disclosure, I covet british cheese and wish to see more imports.

  • ljgude

    One of the things I like about Texas is that even if all their tall building fall down because of fracking they will just build them up again. In that way they will produce two new groups of tycoons while in Brussels they will be reduced to burning the furniture to keep warm.

  • Tim Ryan

    Even if the Brits manage to surmount the political hurdles, there are structural problems which will limit their ability to maximize their shale deposits. For example, drilling intensity is a key to success in shale gas – you need a lot of rigs working at a fast pace. Most of the rigs capable of horizontal drilling are already busy at work in the US. More here

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I’ve been saying that it is just a matter of time before the EU flies apart, just like the Warsaw Pact and the old Soviet Union, and for the same reasons.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service