Ukraine’s conflict has underscored the need for Europe to consider developing its own shale energy resources and import natural gas from the United States, said U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday this week.
The recent annexation of Crimea off Ukraine by Russia has spurred the 28-nation European Union to seek alternative sources of energy in order to wean itself off Russian gas exports and shield the members from the geopolitical conflicts with the Eastern neighbour. Currently, Russia accounts for 30 percent of the Continent’s gas supplies.
“It is useful for Europe to look at its own energy assets as well as how the United States can supply additional energy assets,” Obama said in a news conference in Brussels on Thursday. “This entire event, I think, has pointed to the need for Europe to look at how it can further diversify its energy sources,” he said.
Europe has 470 trillion cubic feet of potential shale gas reserves, which is about 80 percent of U.S. resources, based on estimates by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Unfortunately, some potential huge gas producers such as Germany and France have imposed bans on fracking, or technically hydraulic fracturing, over fears of possible groundwater contamination.
Fracking is a technology used to tap shale gas that involves pumping chemicals, fine sand and water at high pressure to fracture rocks, thus releasing trapped oil and gas.
Unlike Europe, America has developed its shale resources, which has seen natural gas prices fall, causing it to cut its dependence on imported energy. However, former Soviet states in the East, which are the largest consumers of Russian gas, are especially welcome to any efforts to tap shale gas than most Western counterparts
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