Deliverable D6.5: Report on Quality Check of Shale Gas Extraction Assessment

29 February 2020
Shale gas
Quantitative storytelling
Cristina Madrid López

Cite as: Madrid-Lopez C (2021), 'Report on Quality Check of Shale Gas Extraction Assessment', Revision (V2.0), MAGIC (H2020–GA 689669) Project Deliverable 6.5, 15 January 2021.

Abstract: Based on an analysis of media, a review of legal documents and a round of interviews, two main statements were identified that define the narrative of the EC about shale gas. The first of them being that “Shale gas extraction in the EU can offset the closing of the Groningen fields and still cover 10% of the EU gas demand in 2035” whereas the second one stated that “The above production, if substituting other energy sources like coal, will reduce environmental impact in terms of methane emissions and water use”. 

A scenario was built in which all potential land in the EU was drilled with constant drilling rate within the period 2020-2030 and for wells no deeper than 4000 meters. We then studied their economic and energy breakeven points and environmental impacts in the period 2020-2035. The energy and economic breakeven points were analyzed in the viability domain and the methane and water use-offsetting capacity in the feasibility domain.

The findings indicate that a shale gas industry in Europe is not worth it. Neither the gas productivity nor the environmental impacts are justified by the energy or the economic benefit to society. The shale gas sector will only be able to contribute to energy security while the sector keeps drilling and the wells are young. However, it would not contribute to decrease GHG emissions and most of the environmental impacts will come from wells with negative energy and economic return on investment.

Data set: Shale gas development in the EU 10Km radius well grid scenario (geo data set of escenario of shale gas implementation in Europe):

Related Policy BriefEnsuring natural gas supply in the low carbon era: The potential of shale gas (February 2020).