Can The North American Shale Revolution Help Transform Europe’s Energy Landscape?

10 December 2014
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Proponents of the North American shale revolution argue that shale gas would allow Europeans to become masters of their own destiny. IR scholars have for some time attempted to find a satisfactory answer to the question of whether a shale boom like that experienced in America can be a game changer for Europe’s well-known problem of dependency on energy exports. It is true that Europeans, in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, have given pace to their attempts to diversify their indigenous resources. As a result, shale gas, especially amongst European countries (with little or no indigenous energy resources) has gained significant attention. Witnessing low natural gas prices on the American continent, these states have undertaken their own transition from coal or lignite burned/based power generations to gas burned power generation with the help of horizontal drilling methods. At the end of this journey these states hope to eventually attain both cheap and clean energy. Moreover, some of the European states, by attempting to develop shale exploration, eventually aim to bring an end to the EU’s long time dependency on Russian gas.


However, the shale gas has turned out to be a very divisive issue amongst the various EU states as well as with the public. Apart from its highly debatable negative effects on the environment, shale gas exploration in Europe has already been rejected by some of the European energy experts on the basis that it might cause a delay in the decision of some countries to continue with the EU’s long term ambitious climate policy projects. The policy is based on developing indigenous renewable alternative energy supplies through which the EU aims to bring forth a low carbon economy across the continent. Hence, this analysis will first focus on the current debates related to shale gas exploration in Europe and provide a brief analysis of the essentials of shale gas exploration in US. Finally, the analysis will attempt to find a clear answer to the question of whether a shale revolution would meet European goals concerning alternative means of energy with an ability to convince the Europeans that the EU can overcome the Union’s dependency on abroad and in particularly to Russian gas imports.


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