MEPs called for shale gas drilling to be subject to tough rules in two resolutions adopted on 21 November. Extraction could boost Europe's energy supply, but as there are concerns about how it could affect people's health and the environment, the Parliament calls for caution. Find out how shale gas drilling works in our infographic.
Why the Parliament prepared a position on shale gas extraction
It's too early to say whether significant volumes can be extracted in the EU. However, shale gas exploration has already been permitted in a number of member states: Poland, Austria, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK. If important discoveries are made, they could consider moving on to extraction. Other countries - such as France and Bulgaria - have decided for the time being to suspend exploitation plans.
The role of the parliamentary committees
In order to cover all possible angles, two committees looked into shale gas extraction. The environment committee investigated the economic impact, while the industry and energy committee delved into other aspects, such as industrial and energy. Boguslaw Sonnik, a Polish Christian-Democrat, wrote a report on behalf of the environment committee; while Niki Tzavela, a Greek member of the Europe of freedom and democracy group, penned one on behalf of the industry committee. Both reports were adopted by their committee.
The development and production of shale gas could lead to lower prices by increasing competition, create jobs and reduce our dependence on importing energy from other countries, thereby improving the security of our energy supply.
Shale gas extraction involves injecting large quantities of water into rock formations to recover gas trapped one or two kilometres beneath the surface. If the well has not been constructed properly, there could be contamination of groundwater. There is also the risk of blowouts, above ground leaks, seismic effects and wastewater and chemicals being spilled.