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EU Nations to Rethink Fracking, Says Researcher

European Union (EU) nations are likely to reconsider hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for its potential to promote energy independence and spur economic growth, according to consultant Frost & Sullivan (F&S).

While governments have put restrictions or outright bans on fracking in a number of EU nations, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, France and the Netherlands, F&S analyst Ankur Jajoo predicted that won't stop the technology from being deployed.

Jajoo is predicting that European nations eventually will join the fracking bandwagon. "Countries struggling with different political and social challenges can benefit through the ongoing best practices achieved by North American oilfield service companies, water treatment companies and exploration and production companies," he said.

Jajoo concluded that throughout North America the industry has continued to make technological advances while governments have increasingly raised the bar in terms of environmental protections in using the fracking process.

"Some key factors sustaining ongoing drilling activity in North America are the significant improvements to water management, greater efficiency in drilling operations, reduction of onsite air pollutants from trucks, drilling machinery and even from methane gas recapture from flaring," Jajoo wrote in a report.

Not all regions of the EU are suitable for exploiting the use of fracking, he said. He recommended that the EU nations emulate what North America did in "going through a learning curve" to improve oil and gas field operations. In that regard, Jajoo said other nations can learn from Poland's experience, which involved "low gas production volumes, challenging geology and high drilling costs in densely populated areas."

Citing industry statistics that place UK oil and gas production costs at least 50% higher than comparable costs in the United States, Jajoo said European production costs would likely drop significantly through application of some of the same technologies that have been used in North America.

If the EU nations begin to increase productio, then it is possible that increased pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal infrastructure could be developed to get the higher production levels to market.

"The challenge that supersedes all of the production cost factors is the acceptance and adoption by governments and citizens to welcome exploration companies and assess the potential," Jajoo said. "In these difficult economic times, countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, France and the UK ought to proceed with new drilling and hydraulic fracturing opportunities sooner rather than later."

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