Climate impact of potential shale gas production in the EU

In this study, commissioned by the European Commission’s DG Climate Action and delivered by AEA in collaboration with CE Delft and Milieu, existing estimates of GHG emissions from shale gas production and available abatement options were used to obtain improved estimates of emissions from possible shale gas exploitation in the EU. 

GHG emissions per unit of electricity generated from shale gas were estimated to be around 4 to 8% higher than for electricity generated by conventional pipeline gas from within Europe. These additional emissions arise in the pre-combustion stage, predominantly in the well completion phase when the fracturing fluid is brought back to the surface together with released methane. If emissions from well completion are mitigated, through flaring or capture, and utilised, then this difference is reduced to 1 to 5%. The analysis suggests that the emissions from shale gas-based power generation (base case) are 2 to 10% lower than those from electricity generated from sources of conventional pipeline gas located outside of Europe (in Russia and Algeria), and 7 to 10% lower than those from electricity generated from LNG imported into Europe.

However, under our ‘worst case’ shale gas scenario, where all flow back gases at well completion are vented, emissions from electricity generated from shale gas would be similar to the upper emissions level for electricity generated from imported LNG and for gas imported from Russia.


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