European Parliament Calls for Shale Regulation, Rejects Ban

On November 21, 2012, the European Parliament comprised of 754 representatives from the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU) approved two resolutions relating to shale oil and gas development based on reports from its Environmental, Public Health and Food Safety Committee and its Industry, Research and Energy Committee, both of which studied shale gas and oil extraction activities.

These resolutions call for each member state to establish “robust regulations” for all shale activities and to use caution in developing shale gas and oil resources with hydraulic fracturing. 

The European Parliament decided that each member state should determine whether it wants to exploit shale gas development (vote: 492 for to 129 against) and rejected a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing (vote: 391 against ban to 262 for ban).

Other provisions of these resolutions include:
  • Because of insufficient data on fracturing chemicals and the environmental and health risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, there is an on-going need for further and continuous research. 
  • The development of a comprehensive European Best Available Techniques Reference (BREF) for fracking based on robust scientific engineering practice is needed. 
  • Operators must meet certain seismic and microseismic standards to prevent seismic tremors. 
  • Operators must consider the need for advance water provision plans based on local hydrology, local water resources, the needs of other local water users, and capacities for wastewater treatment. 
  • The oil and gas industry must take measures to protect groundwater. Concerns over the potential of shale gas development damaging water supplies through leakage from wells can be addressed through the adoption of best practices in well development and construction, especially casing, cementing, and pressure management. Operators should test domestic water wells close to their oil and gas wells both before and during production, and to disclose the results to the public in an accessible, understandable and transparent manner. 
  • Chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing must be registered with the European Chemicals Agency and cannot receive approval unless it is ensured that they do not cause damage to the environment or that such damage is mitigated. 
  • EU shale gas operators should engage and build strong relationships with local communities, given that landowners in Europe do not own underground resources and thus do not benefit directly from shale gas extraction.
Read the text of  the two resolutions:

This article was prepared by Barclay R. Nicholson ( or 713 651 3662) from Fulbright's Energy Practice.