by Jerome a Paris
Thu May 26th, 2011 at 08:19:32 AM EST
The European Energy Review has an article about Europe's reluctance to embrace shale gas (free subscription probably required) which is more interesting for the number of clichés about Europeans it carries.
The article conveys the thoughts of one Frank Umbach (see a short CV here), director at a new think tank, the European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS) in London, founded in September last year by the Department of War Studies at King's College and who seems to have a long history of being critical of Europe's dependency on Russian gas.
His point is that Europe should embrace shale gas as an attractive domestic source of gas which would allow us to snub Gazprom, but that somehow we won't, because:
- we're just whiners
in Europe we always seem to be focusing on the potential problems of a new technology. In the US and Asia they look at the positive prospects.
- we're wimpy and cowardly avoiding facing off the Russians
There is a strong feeling among some companies not to upset Russia in any way. That lobby is also having an effect on government policy in some countries, like Germany.
- we're just not enterprising enough
European companies are at risk of missing out on a crucial development, he says. `They believe they still have plenty of time. That's dangerous. It is now non-European companies that are most active in shale gas - grabbing the best pieces of land and obtaing first-mover advantage.
- in fact, we're basically incompetent
in addition to their strong commitment to the existing gas market structure, including their strong ties with Gazprom, the energy companies face another obstacle. `They lack technical and management expertise'
- we care too much about stupid enviro rules
In Europe, he says, we have so much engineering experience and such strict environmental regulations, that these problems can be avoided. (...) `Public acceptance is going to be the main issue for future unconventional gas development' [hey, what happened to our lack of technical expertise?]
- our labor costs are too high
according to estimates from the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, production costs in Europe could be four times as high as in the US. This is because drilling costs and labour costs are much higher here than in North America.
- in fact, Europeans are just anti-progress these days
in Germany there is `a general mood of cynicism among energy producers', because just about all their activities are being resisted by the public - be it shale gas exploration, nuclear power, coal-fired power, CO2-storage, or even wind power. `No investment at all seems to be able to go ahead.
Along the way, we learn that we really have no idea if the resource actually exists in Europe, even less of an idea of what it might cost to produce (in fact, it might only be viable under the very same long term pricing arrangements that are in place with Russia and cause that author so much grief) and, of course, that governments should subsidise the sector to make it take off (sorry, "establish a policy framework, with investment mechanisms to stimulate shale gas exploitation
Let's burn more fossil fuels, let's show the Russians, and let's ignore our pampered, wimpy and overpriced populations... Sigh.