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Start Fracking Now, EU Urges Germany

David Charter, The Times

Angela Merkel has been urged to end Germany’s moratorium on fracking as part of a drive to reduce dependency on Russian gas.

The call to allow “demonstration projects” in hydraulic fracturing, the controversial gas extraction technique, came from Günther Oettinger, who is in charge of the EU’s energy directorate.

Mr Oettinger, a senior member of Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said that fracking should be part of the German response to Russia’s use of energy as a political weapon.

Fracking is banned in Germany but Mrs Merkel’s options for diversifying the energy supply and becoming more self-sufficient have narrowed after she pledged to close the nine remaining nuclear reactors by 2022 and stop coal production in 2018.

“Gazprom [the Russian state-backed energy producer] has a share of about 25 per cent of the European gas market. I am against scaling back or even cutting our gas links with Russia in the coming years, but we must pursue our strategy of diversification,” Mr Oettinger toldDie Welt newspaper.

“Norway and Algeria are major supplier countries, and with the development of the ‘southern corridor’ we are creating a connection to the gasfields in Azerbaijan. But only 30 per cent of the EU’s gas needs come from our own production.

“I would strongly advise Germany to make use of the shale gas option and allow fracking demonstration projects.”

Germany has much lower estimated accessible reserves of shale gas than France and Poland but still has at least eight trillion cubic feet of the fuel under its territory, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The country is the largest energy consumer in Europe and used 3.1 trillion cu ft of gas in 2012. It has no ports capable of handling liquid natural gas and relies on pipelines, with 38 per cent of its gas imports coming from Russia.

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