8th JULY 2014 the Commission launched a Science & Technology Network on Unconventional Fossil Fuels, which will be coordinated – not by DG Environment – but by the Joint Research Centre’s Institute for Energy & Transport (based in the Netherlands).
Two international campaigners were present as well (Romania and Ireland)
5 Director-Generals and lots of directors and policy officers from the European Commission were present in a room that was filled with maybe 70 people. It shows that there is a major political push inside the Commission to keep shale gas viable as an option by fostering a ‘fact-based’ debate. Addressing environmental concerns and gathering data about the impacts of is considered to be a major concern. Better knowledge about shale gas resources is another motivation for this network.
At the meeting, the Commission did not say many surprising things. Some key words:
- Need to combine competitiveness, sustainability and security
- Need for an adequate legal framework that is science-based, with adequate governance
- Need for regulators to keep up with technological developments
- Sharing knowledge across the EU
- Involve different stakeholders, including civil society
- A ‘call for expression of interest’ will be issued in the next few weeks to invite stakeholders to participate.
- A first meeting will be held in October to decide on tasks and divide the work in working groups.
- The Commission will decide on the need for new legislation on shale gas and other unconventional fossil fuels by August next year. The data generated by this network will feed into the Commission’s discussions.
- The Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Geological Survey as well as the EPA.
- A contract was also signed with the International Institute for Applied systems analysis in Vienna (if my notes are correct, to conduct a study into the geopolitical impact of the shale gas ‘revolution’)
- The Association of the European Geological Surveys has been contracted to develop better experience in assessing the EU’s shale gas potential.