New opportunities in unconventional gas exploitation let Europe dream of lightening its dramatic dependence on Russian supplies.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial method used to drill this type of gas. It is an invasive process that employs high-pressure water jets mixed with specific chemicals to break the shale rocks and to extract the gas contained in them. According to some studies, fracking would have serious consequences on the environment and it would require a strict regulation, which is still absent from the vague energy policy of the European Union.

Among the European countries interested in shale gas explorations, only three have currently granted permits for drilling to energy companies: Poland, United Kingdom and Romania.

Local farmers and activists have joined together a big anti- fracking movement that arose against this decision, while the first tests confirm that european unconventional gas deposits are poorer than expected and their extraction would have limited benefits and no significant impact on consumption.

unproven european reserves of shale gas (billions of mᶟ)
53
% of the EU-28’s gross inland energy consumption in 2012 from imported sources
liters of water injected for each well