Shale gas fever mounts in Austria, Czech Republic

Tomáš Fránek
25. 11. 2011 13:53
Giant shale gas deposits found in Austria, energy companies now turn to Czech Republic
Foto: Reuters

Poysdorf - An Austrian municipality near the Czech border hides giant deposits of shale gas, Austrian energy company OMV announced after exploring the zone.

OMV said the deposit would cover Austria's gas consumption for 30 years, and will investigate the possibilities of how to extract the gas from the shale bedrock.

"We can confirm it is a large deposit," said the company's spokesperson.

Read more: Czech gas pipe to reduce region's dependency on Russia

Not exactly risk-free

However, currently available methods of shale gas extraction make environmental damage inevitable. It requires many more drills than conventional gas extraction, and chemicals have to be applied into shale rock, which can cause contamination of drinking water.

It is estimated there are in total 624 trillion cubic feet (17.67 trillion cubic meters) of shale gas reserves in Europe. This could cover the European gas demand for 60 years.

In the Czech Republic there are possible shale gas deposits under the Berounka river near Prague, however the largest deposits are though to be in the Moravian region.

Read more: Czech energy security under influence of Russian Lukoil

So far, two Czech branches of foreign companies have asked for a permit to explore the deposits. Basgas Energia wants to scan areas near Beroun and Trutnov in the Bohemia region, while Cuadrilla Morava plans to seek shale gas in some territories in Moravia.

MND, a Czech mining company, plan to extract shale gas in some territories in Southern Moravia. The mining will start in 2014. According to Lidové noviny, a Czech daily, South Moravia has tens of billions of cubic meters of shale gas located five kilometers under the ground.

MND will need billions in investments and is already looking for business partners. However, according to experts, mining so deep is risky and the project can end in failure.

Read more: From the frontline of gas wars. Prepare for the worst

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