05 Oct 2012

Should Europe be fracking?

Daniel Gros

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Underlining the fact that shale gas, like all natural resources, can only be used once, Daniel Gros observes in this CEPS Commentary that the real issue is not whether this resource should be developed in Europe, but when it should be used: today or tomorrow? Europe is already a heavy user of gas, but its consumption is stagnating (along with its economy). Despite the hype about the shale gas revolution, the extraction cost of (onshore) conventional gas remains below that of fracking. And lots of pipelines have already been built so that the marginal cost of bringing this ‘conventional’ gas to Europe is thus rather low. Thus, from an economic and environmental point of view, Gros argues that fracking is unlikely to bring large benefits for Europe and that shale gas might just substitute for conventional gas, which is plentiful.

Daniel Gros is Director of CEPS.