Drill, Baby, Drill: EU Says ‘Frack’ You To Putin’s Energy Dependence
Russia’s Ukraine incursion has woken up Europe to the fact that it’s heavily reliant on natural gas from Vladimir Putin, which he can threaten to shut off in order to get his way. This realization has sparked calls for Europe to scale back its green agenda and “drill, baby, drill.”
European Parliament passed an energy bill that would create more burdensome regulations for oil and gas exploration, but exempted exploration in shale formations — which the U.S. have tapped into using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. EU lawmakers are also pushing back finalizing their goals to reduce global warming and increase green energy production in the face of Ukraine’s political crisis.
Poland, which gets most of its gas from Russia, recently promised tax-free status to companies that extract natural gas from shale formations through 2020. Poland’s shale gas potential is estimated between 800 to 2,000 billion cubic meters.
“We adopted measures that should encourage shale gas exploration,” said Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, adding that after 2020 taxes “shouldn’t exceed 40 percent of extraction income.”
EU and Polish momentum have been bolstered by calls from major European industries that want to see more oil and gas exploration on the continent to bring down energy bills. Green policies in countries like Germany, Spain and Britain have hit families and businesses with high energy bills — fracking EU shale gas could bring prices down in the years to come.
“We think that we have to balance climate policy, but also cost competitiveness and security of supply,” Markus Beyrer, the secretary general of BusinessEurope, told EurActiv. “And of course, recently, the issue of security of supply has been added an extra element of external dependence.”
“Of course energy efficiency and renewables will play a role in this,” Beyrer added. “But talking about the quantities, this will not be enough, so this means we will have to have a more rational, less emotional debate on other possibilities, starting with indigenous resources, including shale gas.”
Environmentalists have so far been successful in stymieing fracking, getting France to ban the drilling technique and sparking anti-fracking protests across Britain and other parts of Europe. Activists argue that tapping into shale would have little impact on Europe’s energy security from Russia.