BERLIN, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Rainer Seele, the chairman of German energy company Wintershall, called for an "informed debate" on national policies on shale gas exploration.
Seele addressed delegates at an annual energy conference in Berlin, expressing frustration with the economics and national policies governing the nation's energy sector.
"In order to preserve its competitiveness, Germany must reform the energy policy transformation," he said in remarks published Wednesday.
The chairman said European nations were at risk of being left behind as countries like the United States continue to increase their share of the global energy market. He pointed to forecasts from the International Energy Agency saying export and production of energy-intensive goods from Europe should fall by around 30 percent by 2035 under a status quo scenario.
Shale Gas Europe, a platform led by U.S. energy company Chevron, said 2012 estimates show Germany could extract more than 2.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from its shale deposits. The government last year kept in place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a drilling practice used in shale, as a precautionary measure.
Seele said some natural gas from shale has been extracted in the past from Germany using hydraulic fracturing.
"At the moment the authorization process [for shale extraction] has come to a standstill," he said. "What we need here is an informed debate and legal clarity."