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Shale Fail
Europe Can’t Win

As America continues to surprise the energy world with the astounding boom in oil and gas production it wrought from shale, the rest of the world is lagging far behind. Europe has sizable reserves of its own, but is struggling mightily to approach any sort of commercial production. The FT reports on Poland’s problems:

[E]xploratory wells have failed to meet expectations and many drillers have grown impatient with regulatory delays that executives say have smothered their ambition.

Of the 11 foreign companies that invested in the country’s shale gas market over the past four years, seven have abandoned the market, after spending a cumulative £500m. […]

The steady withdrawal of investors and explorers and rising disillusion with Poland’s shale gas prospects is not likely to be helped by the recent sharp fall in global oil prices, which have cast doubt on the financial credibility of the fuel even in well-established drilling markets such as the US.

Warsaw is finding it difficult to replicate any of the many factors that have proved essential to the American shale experience. Complex geology is confounding initial enthusiasm for what looked to be very promising reserves, and as major after major quits the country’s shale formations, Poland’s expectations for commercial production have been pushed further and further back. Add to that a confusing regulatory environment and byzantine bureaucracy, and it’s not hard to understand the absence of shale success.

Of course, Poland isn’t the only country in Europe with enticing hydrocarbon shale reserves. Germany has plenty of reason to frack itself, but environmental concerns have spurred Berlin to enact a ban on shallow fracking and an effective moratorium on the practice more generally. On Monday, an Environment Ministry spokesperson refutedDer Spiegel report that the German government was considering getting rid of that depth ban, reaffirming Berlin’s reluctance to tap those domestic energy sources.

Energy security concerns have bloomed in Europe this year, after Russian aggression in Ukraine has many of the continent’s leaders concerned over the volatility and strategic implications of such a heavy reliance on Moscow’s gas. Shale could play an important part in any move to diversify away from Russian supplies, but a number of hurdles stand between Europe and a shale renaissance.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I would like to point out that American fracking success is done on private lands outside the Leftist Obama Administration’s control, and ability to stop. That other nation’s can’t replicate the American success is mostly because the incompetent Government Monopolies there, are in control and have seen fit to stop any development. So they are using the excuse that the geology is different, but any driller worth the name can send his drill bit in any direction he wants. And while it’s called horizontal drilling, they are really following the seam of shale in which ever direction it goes. In addition adapting the fracking process is an art that American frackers are only just beginning to master, foreign drillers with no experience and a huge government burden holding them back, will not be catching up to the American’s any time soon.

  • Josephbleau

    For the historical record, New York and Pennsylvania have been producing tight gas since 1880 in vertical wells fracked with sand. Horizontal drilling has been done with success with technology and price which makes more gas and now oil available from one site. there are many targets for this in the world, however most world mineral rights are reserved to the crown so the surface owner does not benefit from the inconvenience of production and it is inhibited, also nimby antis are everywhere. Happenstance encourages the U.S. in so many ways!

    • Corlyss

      Thanks for the info! I thought NY had stopped useful industrial production of just about everything profitable and tax-generating.

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