It's unlikely European countries would duplicate the U.S. shale progress because the geology and regulatory regimes are more complex "but exploiting shale gas Europe-wide has the potential to contribute significantly to energy security whilst reducing dependence on imports from outside the European Union, most notably from Russia," Davey said Thursday at University College London.
Shale natural gas won't be a "silver bullet" for members of the European community but will add diversity to the base of energy resources, he said.
European consumers get about 20 percent of their natural gas needs from Russia.
The British government this week published policy guidelines meant to provide energy companies with the information they need to exploit the country's fledgling shale natural gas sector.
"The U.K. is pioneering shale gas exploration in Europe, and can show a lead on how shale can be done safely and in an environmentally friendly way," Davey said.