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France to keep watching brief on shale gas technology

France continues to evaluate technological developments regarding shale gas, despite having outlawed hydraulic fracturing, so far the only way of producing gas from shale rock, a spokesman for the industry redevelopment ministry said Tuesday. Benjamin Gallezot told the 18th International Gas & Electricity Summit that France is “listening carefully” to the outside world, and seeing how new technology is being used to tackle the shale gas question, from an environmental point of view. Monitoring the practice of shale gas production and the regulatory frameworks elsewhere in Europe, particularly the UK, and how effective they are, does take time, he warned, but he said France has the industrial base needed for shale gas production.

He added that there is no urgency, as France is moving ahead with infrastructure allowing more gas to be imported, such as an LNG import terminal at Dunkirk. It would anyway take between five and ten years of development before output reached serious levels, he said. However, he said, industry in France is feeling the pinch of high gas prices. “Gas prices in the US are well below European Union levels, and the petrochemicals industry is disappearing,” he said. “Getting natural gas production at home could be to our advantage.”

He also said that there would be a political debate to “rebalance things,” perhaps to take advantage of US LNG imports. However he said there have not been any formal talks with the US and declined to say whether any potential discussions would be at a governmental level. The industry redevelopment ministry was set up by President Francois Hollande.

Source: Platts

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