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Politicians: No adequate alternative to Russian energy resources for Europe in next few years

April 4, 2014 - PRLog -- The issue of energy security once again became one of the most discussed subjects after the statement made by Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council. At the end of a two-day summit held in Brussels on March 20-21, he said that the European Union (EU) plans to reduce the dependency on Russian energy supplies.

Among the possible measures that aimed to change the situation in the Europe, Herman Van Rompuy mentioned improving energy efficiency, diversifying the EU’s supply routes and expanding the share of renewable energy sources, creating of a united energy network, and researching the possibility to import shale gas from the US.

In a related move, certain European politicians once again started discussing the feasibility of shale gas extraction in England, Germany, Hungary, Poland and other countries of the EU, which may potentially replace Russian gas.

The motion to reduce the supplies of Russian gas to Europe, which certain observers consider to be a part of the pressure machine aimed at Russia, was not met with open arms by the European businessmen. Specifically, a number of German senior executives, among them Heinrich Hiesinger, CEO of ThyssenKrupp, Herbert Hainer, the head of Adidas, and Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL, already expressed their disapproval of the sanction policy aimed at Moscow and the decision to move away from Russian energy resources. In their opinion, introducing economic barriers will negatively affect not only Russia, but also the whole Europe.

Politicians and experts also doubt the opportunity to efficiently replace Russian gas with supplies from other countries in the next few years. Ernest Moniz, the US Secretary of Energy, stated that America will be able to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe no earlier than in two years; and Tord Lien, Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy, said that liquefaction of natural gas and delivery of LNG by sea will be much more costly than pipe delivery.

Currently, the future of shale gas extraction in Europe is also ambiguous. Injection of chemicals into the ground, a part of the process of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) used to extract shale gas, may pollute underground waters and later lead to many diseases, including cancer. Fracking is banned in France and Bulgaria, and a temporary ban has been on shale gas mining has been introduced in Czech Republic. In September 2012, Germany recommended banning hydraulic fracturing near drinking water sources and mineral wells. In addition to that, shale gas extraction in Europe may be too costly and make such projects unprofitable.

However, Oras Tynkkynen, a Member of the Parliament of Finland, representing the Green League, in his interview to “PenzaNews” agency said that shale gas can potentially supply Europe with energy, although he admitted that extracting it may be dangerous.

“There are considerable concerns and risks related to fracking shale gas. If environmental and health concerns can be addressed, shale gas can be one alternative – and domestic – source of gas in Europe,” he specified.

The politician also noted that currently Europe is highly dependent on Russian gas imports, and that the progression towards the new energy policy may begin today.

“To my knowledge there is widespread consensus on the need to tackle energy dependency,” Oras Tynkkynen said.

Herbert Reul, a European MP and a member of the German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, also expressed the thought that shale gas extraction in Europe may be one of the possible sources of natural gas for the European countries.

“I think shale gas in Europe is a chance we should use. If there are our own resources, obviously we should use them,” Herbert Reul said.

According to him, in all questions of supply, dependency on a single supplier always has its downsides, and the current situation in Ukraine has brought energy dependency back on the European political agenda.

“When you are on the receiving end, you always depend on others and their supplies. In such a situation, it is always advantageous to rely on several rather than one supplier. If the Americans decide that they allow the export of shale gas, America can be one of the supplies the EU relies on,” Herbert Reul explained.

However, Miloslav Ransdorf, a member of the European Parliament for the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, thinks differently.

According to him, soon it will be proved that the shale gas is mostly a myth and that LNG imports from the US will not solve the ongoing energy situation.

“The import of the shale gas cannot be the solution of the energy problem,” the Czech politician stated.

Beyond that, he pointed out that Herman Van Rompuy “is no expert in the energy field” and his declaration is only political, and related to the crisis in Ukraine.

“The energy mix is completely different and the commercial possibilities are different. The [suggested] change is unfeasible in the short term,” Miloslav Ransdorf added.

Norbert Glante, a member of the European Parliament for the Social Democratic Party of Germany, also expressed his belief that Europe will not be able to quickly replace Russian gas and oil with other energy resources.

“I am not convinced that the decrease of Russian energy imports will happen in the near future. The amount of Russian gas and oil imported into the EU is significant and cannot be replaced at short notice,” he said, and reminded that the European energy mix is in the responsibility of each member state, and beyond the EU’s jurisdiction.

“Contracts between private companies or individual countries have to be respected,” Norbert Glante added.

Concerning the employment of shale gas extraction in Europe, the German politician stated that the first thing the EU must do is create a legislative framework and set common standards regarding the protection of environment.

He also reminded that the conditions for fracking in Europe are vastly different from those in the USA in many criteria, like the density of population.

“Furthermore, it is the decision of the member states whether or not they want to extract shale gas. As there are countries like France, Bulgaria or Romania where the extraction is not allowed or a moratorium is imposed, I do not see a shale gas boom in the coming years in the European Union,” the German Euro MP explained.

Speaking further on the subject, Norbert Glante also doubted the notion that the US will quickly make Europe energy-independent.

“As far as I know, the United States only recently allowed the export of shale gas and do not have the necessary infrastructure in order to assure an extensive export. That is why there is no short-term alternative. It will not help substantially increasing Europe's in dependence,” he added.

Full text news agency "PenzaNews": http://penzanews.ru/en/opinion/55342-2014

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