Europe hasn’t had much to smile about on its energy front recently. Subsidies for renewables have sent electricity prices up across the continent, without yielding the expected emissions reductions. But now there’s a bit of good news. As the FT reports, ExxonMobil is pioneering a more environmentally friendly fracking fluid, in the hopes that the newer, safer emulsion will convince countries like France and Germany to lift their moratoriums on drilling for shale gas:
[ExxonMobil], the world’s biggest private sector oil company by market capitalisation, said it had developed non-toxic fluids specifically intended for the geological conditions in Germany. The fluids have yet to be tested under field conditions. […]Exxon in Germany confirmed that it had developed fracking fluids that were neither toxic nor hazardous to the environment. Asked what impact this might have on the political debate, Exxon declined to comment.
This could be big for Europe. Russia’s recent aggressions have reminded Europe’s leaders of a very uncomfortable truth: They rely heavily on Russia for their energy needs. Moscow supplies roughly a quarter of Europe’s gas, and just this week it threatened to cut off its supply to Ukraine over unpaid bills. That’s not just bad news for Ukrainians; half of Europe’s share of Russian gas transits Ukraine, making this a big issue for Brussels.If ExxonMobil can demonstrate the safety of its new fracking fluid in the field, greens will lose their last reason for obstructing the pursuit of a steady and sizable supply of domestic energy.