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“Commercial shale gas production in Europe can begin not earlier than in 2016-2018 even with positive geological surveys. But production volumes will not bring about major changes in the European gas market due to a decline in conventional gas production,” the report said.
Great Britain pins great hopes on its Bowland Basin, but geological prospecting for shale gas there has so far failed to produce positive results and has been complicated by public protests and closeness to major cities such as Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester.
Shale gas production in Europe can also encounter certain problems such as the need to drill a large number of wells and use chemicals for boosting the inflow of gas, which may be difficult to do in densely populated Europe where environmental and water safety concerns are high on the agenda.
However, the governments of Poland, Britain and Ukraine have offered tax benefits in order to encourage shale gas production.
But Tatyana Timochko, the head of the Ukrainian Ecological League, warned that commercial shale gas production in Ukraine could cause irreparable damage to the environment.
She said, citing findings by Ukrainian scientists from the National Academy of Sciences, that it would take an area of about two hectares to drill just one well.
According to the expert, this will mean stripping the area “down to clay” in order to get a stable solid surface for process equipment, whereupon “thousands of hectares of fertile land will be ruined irrecoverably.”
After passing through radioactive rock, the water mixed with rocks, clay, sand and chemicals will come back to the surface, but it is not known how it will be recycled, Timochko said.
“This water will get back to the surface and then what? It’s nothing like the Marcellus Formation in America where the public forced [the authorities] to build a plant for recycling this mass only 15 years later. Until then it was dumped into the desert, into some pits there. But density [of population] there where the Marcellus Formation is, are 2 persons per square kilometre, while in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions it is 78-84,” she said.Timochko stressed that “there is simply no place to dump this solution” in Ukraine. “All this dirt will stay on the surface and will poison surface water,” she warned.
She also spoke of possible consequences of shale gas production in areas where coal was or still is mined.
“Mines have already created manmade faults and if hydraulic fracturing starts, the degree of ground shaking will increase. These are manmade earthquakes that the British spoke of and that forces them to stop shale gas production in England,” Timochko said.