Shale gas fracking: Water lessons from the US to Europe

Tim Probert

Water and energy have always had a close relationship, but shale gas and water are particularly intimate. Water is integral to shale gas drilling and there is a growing market, estimated to be worth up to $100 billion in the United States, for wastewater treatment. Tim Probert explores the opportunities and challenges in Europe. This article was first published in the April/May 2012 edition of Water and Wastewater International.

There is no question that shale gas has been a ‘game-changer’ in the US. From virtually nothing ten years ago, shale gas now accounts for around a quarter of domestic natural gas production.

Can the same happen in Europe? According to the US Energy Industry Administration, Europe has up to 480 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of “technically recoverable shale gas resources”, compared with 862 tcf in the US. This would be enough to meet current consumption levels for approximately 25…

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