Germany’s shale plays could hold trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, according to figures released last week by the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), a government geosciences authority.

According to Reuters, BGR — part of the economics and technology ministry — said Germany may have between 6.8 trillion cubic meters (240.1 Tcf) and 22.6 trillion cubic meters (798.1 Tcf) of natural gas in its shale formations. Assuming a technically recoverable rate of 10%, BGR said between 0.7 trillion cubic meters (720.3 Bcf) and 2.3 trillion cubic meters (81.2 Tcf) of natural gas could be extracted.

“Germany has a significant shale gas potential,” the Hannover-based agency reportedly said. It later called hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is an “environmentally acceptable” technology, and one that would prove successful if “provided legally mandated rules are adhered to, necessary technical measures are taken and preliminary explorations at each site are made.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration believes Europe holds 10% of global shale gas reserves, a figure that admittedly relies on data from limited exploration activities (see Shale Daily, April 7, 2011). Although Europe isn’t producing natural gas from shale yet, 16 countries on the continent — including Germany — are believed to hold shale gas reserves. Exploratory wells have been drilled in Austria, England, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland and Sweden.

Natural gas is drawing increasing interest in Germany as it looks to phase out nuclear power generation (see Shale Daily, Oct. 26, 2011). Like many other countries in Europe, Germany is also looking to reduce its reliance on Russia for natural gas.

ExxonMobil Corp. recently announced it was ending shale gas exploration efforts in neighboring Poland after two test wells yielded disappointing results (see Shale Daily, June 19). Analysts with Ernst and Young Global Ltd., as well as officials with Russia’s natural gas giant OAO Gazprom, have also waxed pessimistic on Europe’s shale prospects (see Shale Daily, Dec. 6, 2011; Dec. 1, 2011).