Fracking could be subject to wide-ranging new European rules that the industry fears will undermine its plans to follow America, where shale wells have sharply reduced the price of gas.
The European Commission is to announce proposals for legislation on shale gas in January as part of its 2030 energy and climate-change strategy. It will argue that the industry would benefit from greater certainty about the environmental standards it will have to meet.
The shale industry is worried that the laws could be exploited to block development. It says that it already has to comply with 14 European directives and argues that the EU should limit itself to publishing new guidelines on fracking. However, Connie Hedegaard, the European Climate Commissioner, said the industry would benefit from having consistent rules across Europe and these could help overcome opposition in France, which has banned fracking for shale gas. […]
Ken Cronin, chief executive of the UK Onshore Operators Group, which represents companies interested in fracking, said: “We already have to comply with 14 separate EU directives. Adding an overarching directive, another layer of legislation, is not going to improve public perception and gets you no further. A directive would take 3-5 years to get through the EU [and will] create uncertainty.”