Apr 20, 2022
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Gazprom, Miller wary: Germany remembered its shale gas

Gazprom, Miller wary: Germany remembered its shale gas

Photo: PA Images/TASS

The German government has rejected the possibility of shale gas production in the country, as it can cause significant damage to the country’s ecology, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung quotes the statement of the Minister of Economics, Vice Chancellor Roberta Habeko.

At a meeting with journalists, he said that the country has large deposits of shale gas, but its production will be accompanied by hydraulic fracturing. And this, according to Habek, is extremely difficult due to the law on water resources in force in the country. He added that the development of deposits and obtaining all the necessary permits may take several years. “This could boost natural gas revenues in the short term,” the Vice Chancellor said. “Given that we will start mining it as soon as possible. But it is unlikely that we will be able to solve all our problems with this. In addition, so far no company has expressed a desire to engage in shale gas production in the country, the politician noted.

It should be noted that Habek’s position is shared by the ruling coalition in Germany, in which one of the leading places is occupied by the Green Party. The vice-chancellor said that the government “will act prudently in this matter” and will search for alternative suppliers of blue fuel. He also opposed the immediate imposition of a gas embargo on gas imports from Russia, because such a move would lead to a “violation of the social peace” in Germany. “Even when we intend to harm Putinwe should be careful in our actions,” he said.

According to BGR estimates, shale gas reserves in Germany could range from 320 billion to 2 trillion cubic meters, while the annual demand reaches about 90 billion. A significant part of the deposits are located in northern Germany at a depth of one to five kilometers. These reserves are hard to recover, which is why the cost of a thousand cubic meters can be quite high. However, the issue of producing their own shale gas is being actively discussed by a part of German society that wants to reduce dependence on Russian supplies.

As noted Advisor to the Chairman of the Council of the Union of Oil and Gas Producers of Russia Rustam Tankaevthe next wave of discussion of this issue does not mean that it will move into the practical plane.

— A number of European countries do have shale gas deposits. At different times, there were projects for their development, in which money was invested. But there are a number of important nuances.

Firstly, as a result of the rupture of the layers, the seismological situation may worsen, which is very dangerous in the conditions of a densely populated continent. So, Great Britain tried at one time to conduct reconnaissance on its territory. As a result, where the formation was fractured, earthquakes began – small, only about three points, but people began to get very worried. Residents of the UK are known to be politically active, as they are throughout Europe. Protests began, as a result of which the development of shale gas in the country, as in some other European states, was legally prohibited.

“SP”: – And other reasons?

– As a result of the work carried out, drinking water began to deteriorate. It is we who live in Russia and do not fully understand what wealth we have – high-quality water. And in Europe it is a very big problem. With the massive use of hydraulic fracturing, water is polluted and filled with combustible gases. In the United States, even some time ago, a video was distributed: a farmer comes home, opens a tap with water, clicks a lighter and his water lights up. By the way, in densely populated areas of the United States, it is also forbidden to explore and produce shale gas. Finally, the third problem is that gas is very expensive.

“SP”: – Not comparable in price with our natural?

– We can’t compare. Where they tried to explore it and tried to extract it, say, in Poland, it turned out to be so expensive that this idea had to be abandoned. I do not think that in Europe today someone is burning with the desire to step on the same rake. In various countries of the continent, the positions of the “greens” are quite strong; they will not go against their party program.

“SP”: – Why, in your opinion, this issue is being raised again in political circles?

– Most likely, this is caused by the desire to score political points, to do small PR for yourself, nothing more.

SP: How big are shale gas deposits in Russia?

– Our main reserves are concentrated in several formations located in the Urals and Siberia. By and large, the reserves available there have not even been calculated. Because there are plenty of explored natural gas deposits, the level of supply of which we have is simply outrageous. We can easily increase its production to 1 trillion cubic meters a year, but there are restrictive regulations, so we produce about 740 billion cubic meters – a little more, a little less.

“SP”: – By the way, estimates of the volume of available shale gas reserves have already appeared in Germany – from 320 billion to 2 trillion cubic meters. How accurate are these measurements?

– No one there seriously calculated the reserves and no one made reasonable estimates, because it is forbidden to conduct reconnaissance there. Therefore, the published conclusions are made, as they say, by eye. But the explored reserves are so insignificant that it is not necessary to talk about them.

“SP”: – It’s no secret that the eyes of some European politicians today are turned to Norway, which also produces and exports natural gas.

– Indeed, this state is sometimes called almost the gas Klondike of Europe. But there, the proven reserves of blue fuel amount to approximately 1.6 trillion cubic meters, compared to ours, this is simply negligible.

“SP”: – That is, the search for alternatives to Russian gas in Europe, by and large, does not make sense?

– They have nowhere to go. Of course, they will make some more noise, but they will be forced to accept our conditions and pay for gas in rubles. Otherwise, we will simply stop supplying fuel to those who do not want to pay for it. This is done all over the world and there is nothing new in this practice. All serious experts say that in the near future there is no alternative to gas as a fuel. The same hydrogen energy, which is talked about so much, is too expensive and technologically imperfect.

Boris Martsinkevich, editor-in-chief of the Geoenergy portal notes that even legislative relaxations will not change the situation in European countries.

— Even the lifting of the ban on the development of shale gas deposits will take a significant amount of time. In the United States, technologies for its extraction began to be developed in 1979, and production began in 2009 – 30 years have passed. Even if the Americans share technology with Europe, it is far from certain that they will be suitable for the Old World. Some may fit, but some will have to be discarded. So, in the medium term, this process will take 15 years.

“SP”: – Somewhere the Europeans will be able to find at least a partial replacement for our fuel – in Norway, Algeria?

– Norway has already announced that it will gladly increase production by 1.5 billion – of course, Russian volumes, more than 200 billion cubic meters, this, of course, will “replace”. As for Algeria, the Trans-Mediterranean Gas Pipeline from this country to Italy via Tunisia has recently been loaded at about 50 percent due to the development of deposits. So, Algeria should increase exploration to search for and develop new deposits, investing in this. And there, with any luck – maybe I’ll find something, or maybe … no luck at all.

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