Early estimates suggest that Spain has huge shale gas reserves, some of the largest in Europe, but the Spanish public are worried that the fracking technique used to extract the gas is harmful to the environment.
The northern region of Cantabria, an area of Spain believed to be rich in shale gas, has just unanimously voted to ban hydraulic fracturing based on concerns for the environment. The ban was proposed by the People’s Party, who hold an absolute majority in the Cantabrian regional parliament, and then supported by all other political parties in the parliament in the vote on Monday afternoon.
The People’s Party also rules at a national level, where it has often given its support to hydraulic fracturing, based on the provisos that it strictly adheres to environmental rules. It is possible that this ruling People’s Party could overturn the ban in Cantabria.
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Fracking in the US led to a shale boom which sent natural gas prices plummeting to record lows. In Europe the progress of fracking has been much slower due to the persistent environmental fears; fracking has been banned outright in France and Bulgaria.
Shale Gas Europe, a lobby group, said that “Spain’s significant reserves, if technically recoverable, will transform its economy at a time when the country is struggling with a burgeoning debt and has been forced to adopt austerity measures.”
Spain has been struggling to keep its head above the water as it resists a deep recession and high unemployment. It currently imports 76% of its energy needs, and the development of a fracking industry could relieve its dependence on foreign coal, oil, and natural gas.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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