Shale gas is nowadays constantly in the news. It has pushed America’s yearly gas production to 680bn cubic metres, overtaking Russia as the world’s largest gas producer and fuelling the ‘reindustrialisation’ of the U.S. Unsurprisingly, Europeans have high hopes of replicating the U.S. story, with expectations that cheap gas will revive ailing economies in the EU and reduce Europe’s energy import dependence. The hope is to limit Europe’s exposure to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s ‘gas weapon’, and also to curb transit countries like Ukraine from using that as a political bargaining chip.
Leaving geological wildcards aside, Europe’s national leaders would therefore do well to deal with shale gas as a European-level policy issue. To do so successfully, they need to get three things right: A clear analysis of what shale gas might and might not add to their country’s energy security; a shale gas governance framework at both European and national levels; and the public debate surrounding it. Read the whole piece in the spring 2014 edition of Europe’s World.