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EU: German fracking fears unwise

The EU's energy commissioner warned Germany not to rule out fracking, a controversial method of drilling for natural gas - saying it could hurt the country's competitiveness, in an interview published on Tuesday.

EU: German fracking fears unwise
European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. Photo: DPA

Günther Oettinger, Germany’s designated EU commissioner, criticised his country’s scepticism of fracking, telling the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that research had fallen victim to the “emotional” debate over the issue.

The government in Berlin is planning legislation to regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as fracking. The process uses high-pressure substances, including water, sand and chemicals, to dislodge natural gas from rocks deep underground.

Critics of fracking point to the environmental risks, saying it can cause polluting chemicals to leech into groundwater.

Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats have reportedly been mulling whether to make the draft law on fracking even tougher, including a temporary freeze on new permits.

In his interview with FAZ, Oettinger said Germany must be prepared to take certain risks to remain competitive – and would be wise not to discount fracking altogether.

“I recommend that Germany, too, not say a firm ‘no’ to fracking,” he remarked. “Otherwise we will lose key competencies.”

The fracking business is booming in the United States, leading to lower energy prices and prompting a wave of investment from abroad, including from Germany’s biggest energy provider, E.on.

Germany’s Environment Ministry has estimated the country’s own natural gas reserves from rock sources like shale at about 1.3 trillion cubic metres – enough to meet Germany’s natural gas needs for the next 13 years.

DAPD/DPA/The Local/arp

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ENERGY

Qatar agrees to ‘long-term gas supply’ deal with Germany

Qatar has agreed to send Germany two million tons of liquefied natural gas a year for at least 15 years, officials said Tuesday, as Europe's biggest economy scrambles for alternative supplies after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Qatar agrees to 'long-term gas supply' deal with Germany

Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi said up to two million tons of gas a year would be sent for at least 15 years from 2026, and that state-run QatarEnergy was discussing other possible deals for Europe’s biggest
economy.

Kaabi, who is also QatarEnergy’s chief executive, said so many European and Asian countries now want natural gas that he did not have enough negotiators to cope.

The talks for the latest deal took several months as Germany has resisted the long-term contracts that Qatar normally demands to justify its massive investment in the industry.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February increased pressure on the German government to find new sources. And the latest deal will not help the country get through the looming winter.

The gas will be bought through US firm ConocoPhillips, a long-term partner with QatarEnergy, and sent to a new terminal that Germany is hurrying to finish at Brunsbuttel.

“We are committed to contribute to the energy security of Germany and Europe at large,” Kaabi told a press conference after the signing ceremony with ConocoPhillips chief executive Ryan Lance.

Lance hailed the accord as “a vital contribution to world energy security”.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What are Germany’s alternatives to Russian gas?

Qatar last week announced a 27-year agreement to ship four million tons a year to China. It said this was the longest contract agreed in the industry.

Qatari officials would not discuss prices but industry analysts have said Germany will have to pay a premium for the shorter contract and the hurried start to deliveries.

Intense demand

Kaabi again stressed the “sizeable investments” that his country has made in extracting gas for deliveries around the world.
But he also said that Qatar was negotiating with German companies to further increase the “volumes” being sent.

The gas will come from the North Field East and North Field South projects that Qatar is developing with ConocoPhillips and other energy multinationals.

North Field contains the world’s biggest natural gas reserves and extends under the Gulf into Iranian territory.

Through expansion in North Field, Qatar is aiming to increase its production by 60 percent by 2027. With increases in international prices, the value of its exports has almost doubled in the past year, state media said
recently.

Asian countries led by China, Japan and South Korea have been the main market for Qatar’s gas, but it has been increasingly targeted by European countries since Russia’s war on Ukraine threw supplies into doubt.

“There is very intense discussions with European buyers and with Asian buyers,” Kaabi said, highlighting the “scarcity of gas coming in the next few years”.

“We do not have enough teams to work with everybody, to cater for the needs” of all countries making demands.

Kaabi said the deal with China’s Sinopec showed that “Asian buyers are feeling the pressure of wanting to secure long-term deals… I think we are in a good position.”

The Brunsbuttel terminal supplies customers of German energy companies Uniper and RWE, and Economy and Energy Minister Robert Habeck said the two firms “have to buy on the world market.

“It is clear that the world market has different suppliers, and it is smart from the companies to buy the most favourable offers for the consumers on the world market, and that includes Qatar.

“But this is not the only supplier on the market.”

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