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European Fossil Fuels: Resources and Proven Reserves

John Constable

As Europe faces its worst energy crisis in living memory, Net Zero Watch has warned ministers and MPs in London and Brussels that they have a choice between exploiting Europe’s untouched fossil fuel resources or inevitable relegation of the continent to second world status.

It is matter of real concern that most MPs and ministers still oppose drilling for gas and oil in European waters and the North Sea, and even more importantly, still reject shale gas exploration, blocking a vital energy resource for Europe’s and the UK’s future.

Europe’s fossil fuel resources are the subject of a new paper published today by Net Zero Watch. The paper surveys the scale of resources and concludes that they are large enough to make a significant difference to both price and energy security, opening up the path to a more secure future.

Europe’s energy resources are far from trivial, with coal reserves amounting to nearly 13% of the global total, sufficient to support current levels of production for nearly 300 years.

According to the European Commission, technically recoverable shale gas resources in Europe amount to some 14 trillion cubic metres, between four and five times greater than the proven reserves of natural gas. In other words, shale gas would be sufficient to support current levels of European gas production for more than 50 years. 

In 2014 the European Commission concluded that ‘the volumes produced will not make Europe self-sufficient in gas, but could help to reduce prices’. That conclusion is obviously correct, and applies with equal force to coal, oil, and conventional natural gas resources.

Dr John Constable, the report’s author, said:

Europe’s fossil fuel resources will not deliver self-sufficiency – for that we need nuclear energy – but they reinforce our energy security and promote the economic prosperity that we require to move towards a high energy nuclear future.

It is alarming that there are still parliamentarians who believe that more renewable energy is the solution, when this will only deepen the current crisis and make recovery still more difficult. Only the physically superior energy from fossil fuels is able to help us out in this desperate situation.”

European Fossil Fuels: Resources and Proven Reserves (pdf)