Controversial fracked gas arrives in Europe from US

22 July 2016

The second shipment of controversial fracked gas arrived in Spain from the US today, for sale on a continent that has widely rejected the environmentally destructive fossil fuel. The shipment arrived at the Mugardos liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, at the port of Ferrol in Galicia, following an earlier delivery to Portugal this year.

These are the first forays by US shale gas companies into the European market, following the lift of a 40-year ban on US oil and gas exports, with imports of this carbon-intensive fossil fuel into Europe potentially snowballing in future. This will undermine democratically agreed bans and moratoriums in some European countries, as well as the climate commitments made in Paris last year, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.

Antoine Simon, extractive industry campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "It's contradictory for Europe to restrict dangerous fuels like shale gas at home, but let them in through the back door. Countries that banned fracking could now find themselves burning fracked gas. Instead of shackling itself to gas through imports and investments, Europe should be prioritising the renewables and energy efficiency it needs to live up to its climate commitments."

Hector de Prado, energy campaigner for Amigos de la Tierra España said: "If the European institutions are aiming to turn Spain into one of the main gas hubs of the Eurozone, they need to know that future shipments will be resisted. Gas is not the 'transition' fuel Europe needs – it's not wanted here, or anywhere. Gas is a fossil fuel, and has no role to play in solving the climate crisis."

Gas, especially its unconventional form shale gas, is a dirty fossil fuel with significant methane emissions along its lifecycle, and is incompatible with efforts to tackle climate change. Europe is already facing an over-supply of gas, with gas infrastructure sitting idle. The current push for LNG imports and the infrastructure required for them risks locking Europe into decades of fossil fuel use.

According to Friends of the Earth Europe, to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change, Europe urgently needs to transition away from fossil fuels towards renewables – especially community owned and managed – and energy efficiency.