Europe is too emotional about fracking, says Shell chief

  • @BawdenTom

Shell's chief executive, Peter Voser, called on Europe for a less "emotional" response to fracking, as he outlined plans to accelerate the oil giant's use of the controversial technology used to release hydrocarbons from rocks.

Mr Voser said Shell would invest $6bn (£3.8bn) to appraise, explore and develop gas and oil reserves contained in rocks this year, as it looked to significantly expand the volume of hydrocarbons it produces.

About $3bn of the total will be invested developing sites in North America, which contain gas in shale and other rocks that is released by blasting a mixture of water, chemicals and sand into them at high pressure.

"I think it's a very emotional discussion in Europe, it's not very factual. We need to get back to analysis ... . They should not take fast and emotional decisions," Mr Voser said.

Fracking has been steadily gaining momentum in the US in the past decade, dramatically reducing gas prices but generating a stream of accusations that it contaminates groundwater supplies.

Gas and oil companies are now turning their attention to Europe, where the industry is just starting out. In the UK, the sole fracking site, near Blackpool, has been closed for the past few months, pending a government review of the practice, after it was found to have caused earthquakes in the area.

Although Shell does not currently frack for oil or gas in the rocks of Europe and is focusing most of its attention on North America, it has acquired "acreage" in Germany, the Ukraine and Turkey.

Mr Voser said he does not expect fracking in Europe to become anything like as big as in North America, in part because the continent is more densely populated.

Mr Voser was speaking after Shell announced a 34 per cent jump in profits for 2011 to $28.6bn (£18.1bn) as high oil prices helped to push up sales by 28 per cent to $470.1bn.