It’s looking increasingly unlikely that Europe will be able to sever its reliance on Russian energy supplies by developing its own shale gas industry.
For years, Poland has been regarded as the European Union’s biggest hope for developing indigenous sources of natural gas because it sits on large reserves of natural gas trapped in shale. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Poland has 148 tcf (trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas reserves and 1.8 billion barrels of shale oil. By comparison, Russia has an estimated 285 tcf of shale gas.
Poland represents the European Union’s best hope at breaking Russia’s grip over natural gas supplies, and its government has been highly supportive of shale gas development, which is rare in the green-tinged political circles of Europe.
But things have not gone according to plan. Dozens of wells have been drilled since 2010, but almost none have been successful. In fact, Bloomberg reports, the most productive shale projects have returned gas flows that were just 30 percent of what is needed to be commercially viable. Continue reading
With tensions in Ukraine nearing a breaking point, the world is collectively looking to the Western powers for resolution. But, not surprisingly, the response so far has consisted of little more than a wag of the finger, with NATO and other world leaders unanimously condemning Russia’s military action in the Crimea.
While the reasons for this muted response are manifold, it’s difficult to ignore the leverage the Russians hold in this standoff. For starters, the U.S. and other Western powers have little to gain from bringing the Crimean conflict to a head; Russia, on the other hand, greatly benefits from controlling the region, with its strategic access to the Black Sea and concentration of Russian-speaking peoples. Continue reading