Pros and Cons of Shale Gas main topic of discussion in European social dialogue committee

(18 June 2012) A representative of DG environment provided an overview to the social partners of the recent developments in both the US and Europe. Shale gas has taken off in a major way in the US resulting in a complete reversal of the situation turning the US from an importer into considering exports of gas. The LNG terminals have less to do with LNG Being diverted to other places in Europe and Asia. There are economic concerns as extracting shale gas is expensive and more energy to get the gas is needed per well. There are also environmental concerns due to the use of large amounts of water as well as chemical substances. Public perceptions is not good. The evaluations of the Commission indicate that the technical risks are manageable. It remains hence an issue for private companies to consider if developing shale gas is economically viable, The Commission has not evaluated the positive and negative impact on employment.

The developments in Europe do not take off in the same way. Some countries have stopped research and exploration due to public concerns, others are exploring the possibilities (and it was argued you really need to do this to be able to assess the amount of reserves available) while a small group of countries is moving ahead with exploitation such as in the UK. Two sites are operating and bringing shale gas forward. It leads to other problems by which the costs for transport and connections are paid by the transport and distribution companies while the suppliers reap the benefits.

Further discussions took place on the future of the social dialogue committee following the issues raised by Eurogas. The aim of both sides is to continue and ensure that other organizations in the gas sector take their full place.

The meeting took place on 14 June 2012, in Brussels. Colleagues from Austria, Czech and Slovak Republics, France, Lithuania, UK and the EPSU Deputy General participated in the EPSU delegation.

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