Fracking Falls Victim to German Coalition Building
The possibility of Germany exploring its shale gas potential appears to have been put on the backburner as the result of discussion between coalition partners.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), together with their Bavaria-based sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), are two weeks into negotiations to work out policy compromises, budget priorities and cabinet posts.
Comments on Friday from the Katherina Reiche of the Christian Democrats and Ute Vogt of the Social Democrat, indicated that the partners had reached an agreement to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) until environmental concerns are resolved.
“We have agreed on a moratorium on unconventional exploration that is to be in place until it’s clear that there are no health implications,” said Vogt, an SPD leader on environment issues. The SPD has opposed shale gas, tight natural gas liquids, and coalbed methane development and was expected to push for stricter regulations and the imposition of a moratorium if it came into office.
The exploration industry has begun research to stop using chemicals when fracking and, if successful, the ban may be lifted, commented Reiche, the Deputy Environment Minister. “We expect a technological solution for this problem,” she said.
The previous centre-right German government had drawn up legislation laying out conditions for exploration, including permiting the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas in areas where water resources could not be impacted.
However the significant public concern about the environment implication saw Merkel government unwilling to raise this issue ahead of the September parliamentary elections.
The agreement would be a set back to ExxonMobil, Germany’s largest natural gas producer, and to Wintershall Holdings, who both planned to develop shale gas in Germany.