GDF Suez: Shale answer to Europe's woes

Oct. 15, 2013 at 7:33 AM

DAEGU, South Korea, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Opening up to shale oil and natural gas in Europe could ensure long-term energy security for the region, an executive at French energy company GDF Suez said.

New drilling technologies for shale have led to major increases in U.S. oil and natural gas production. GDF Chief Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet told delegates at the World Energy Congress in South Korea the shale "revolution" has changed the landscape of energy markets.

The United States is relying less on foreign imports though demand centers are shifting to expanding Asian economies. Europe, meanwhile, is looking for ways to break Russia's grip on the regional energy sector.

Europe gets about a quarter of its natural gas from Russia. Mestrallet lamented European governments were closing gas-fired power plants while at the same time expressing reservations about shale.

"Europe is still hesitating about actively searching for its own unconventional oil and gas resources, which perhaps could be a part of the solution," he said Tuesday.

Some of the chemicals used in the shale drilling process are considered environmental threats.

A constitutional court in France last week upheld a 2011 ban on shale drilling, a practice dubbed fracking. French Energy Minister Philippe Martin was quoted Friday by the BBC as saying the court's decision was an "environmental and political" victory.

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