Fracking around the world, including Germany

i Jul 31st No Comments by

This page summarises the position on fracking in different countries around the world.

Of course, being part of wikipedia, it is always useful to check for other sources.

But until we find those, the excerpt on German policy is highly instructive:

“Massive hydraulic fracturing of gas wells in tight sandstone began in Germany in 1975, and became common during the period 1978-1985, when more wells received massive hydraulic fracs in Germany than in any other European country. Germany also had the largest hydraulic fracturing jobs in Europe, using up to 650 tonnes of proppant per well. Most German fracs used water- or oil-based gels.[22] The most popular target formation for hydraulic fracturing was the Rotliegend Sandstone. Hydraulically fractured wells are today the source of most of German natural gas production.[23]

“In February 2013, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel announced draft regulations that would allow for the exploitation of shale gas deposits using the same fracking techniques common in the U.S., with the exception only of wetland areas that make up just over 10% of German territory. The draft legislation had come from the Federal Department of Economics, then headed by the party head ofMerkels coalition partner, the pro-business free Democracts.[24] This policy was said to be motivated by fears that consistently high energy costs were harming German industry, facing competitors for example from the U.S. where energy prices had shrunk to less than 25% of German energy costs.[25]

“However these plans immediately drew massive critique both from opposition parties and elements of Merkel’s own CDU, as well as from major NGOs, large parts of the press and the general public. Within less than a month, the original plan was put on ice for the foreseeable future and a moratorium was declared. Ever since shale gas fracking has de facto been banned in Germany and the stance of the newly formed Grand Coalition government expressed in the coalition treaty is that unconventional gas exploration will not be pursued in the country under this government. Here is an excerpt from the coalition contract:[26]

According to available studies on its environmental relevance, the fracking technology in unconventional natural gas production – particularly in shale gas production – is a technology with enormous potential risks. The effects on humans, nature and the environment are scientifically not yet sufficiently clarified. Drinking water and health have absolute priority for us.
We reject the use of environmentally toxic substances in the application of fracking technology for exploration and extraction of unconventional natural gas deposits. A request for approval can only be decided upon when the necessary data basis for evaluation exists and is clarified beyond doubt that any adverse change in water quality can be ruled out (precautionary principle of the Water Resources Act). The disposal of flowback from fracking operations with the use environmentally toxic chemicals in injection wells is currently not justifiable due to lack of knowledge of the risks involved.
The Coalition will work – with the involvement of federal states and science – in a collaborative process with the companies. The industry will need to explain the specific objectives of their explorations campaigns which specific findings to eliminate gaps in knowledge and to provide a sufficient basis for possible subsequent steps. This should be done in a transparent process. In a dialogue with all stakeholders – under the auspices of the scientific community – research results will be shared and discussed. The Coalition will soon submit legal changes for a better protection of the drinking water in the Water Provision Act and new Regulations on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for mining projects. A mandatory EIA and public participation will be required for the licensing of exploration and production of natural gas from unconventional deposits.

“Although German laws de jure explicitly prohibit only the use of hydraulic fracturing in designated water preserves, fracking operations generally need be authorized by the government, which has publicly declared a moratorium until long-term damage to residents or the environment brought about by fracking can be ruled out or until alternative extraction methods become available that don’t rely on the injection of toxic chemicals.”



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