Fracking: Proposed Regulation By The European Union

As of today no single EU law exists on fracking technology or shale gas exploration. However, on October 9, 2013, the European Parliament voted on an amendment to require energy companies to carry out environmental audits before they deploy fracking technique to recover natural gas from shale rock. Specifically, the amendment states that the following activities will require an EIA (Environmental Impact Analysis):

“14a. Exploration, limited to the phase involving the application of hydraulic fracturing, and extraction of crude oil and/or natural gas trapped in gas-bearing strata of shale or in other sedimentary rock formations of equal or lesser permeability and porosity, regardless of the amount extracted.

14b. Exploration, limited to the phase involving the application of hydraulic fracturing, and extraction of natural gas from coal beds, regardless of the amount extracted.”

The effect of this amendment is that it removes the discretion that EU members currently enjoy as to whether or not to require an EIA for such activities that fall below the 500 tonnes/day (for petroleum) or 500,000 m³/day (for gas). If this amendment becomes law, all EU exploration activities involving hydraulic fracturing (including private and public projects and including both vertical and horizontal wells) will require preparation of an EIA.

Contact: Adam Markusfalvi-Toth, adam.markusfalvi@avocat.hu