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Germany May Consider Lifting Its Ban On Fracking Amid Energy Crisis

Debates in Germany have resurfaced over whether Europe's biggest economy—severely hit by low Russian pipeline gas supply—should consider lifting its ban on fracking, The Globe and Mail reports

Fracking for shale gas in Germany has been banned since 2017.

Last month, Russia cut natural gas supply via Nord Stream to just 20% of the pipeline's capacity. The further reduction in deliveries began just days after Gazprom restarted the pipeline at 40% capacity after regular 10-day maintenance. Before that, Russian supply was reduced to 40% of Nord Stream's capacity, after Gazprom said a turbine sent to Canada for repairs had been held up by the Western sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Canada sent the turbine to Germany, but it has not reached Russia yet.

Amid growing concerns about German energy and gas supply this winter and the potential massive fallout on major industries, such as the chemicals industry, political parties in Germany are now debating whether to waive the ban on fracking and at least allow exploration and testing.

Left-leaning parties, including the ruling Social Democrats and the Greens, are opposed to lifting the fracking ban, while conservative parties favor exploration in view of the coming winter shortages.   

"The significant expansion of domestic natural-gas production will make us independent and restore our energy sovereignty," Michael Kruse, energy policy spokesman of the libertarian Free Democratic Party (FDP) told The Globe and Mail's Claudia Scholz.   

Germany is thought to have shale gas reserves of more than two trillion cubic meters, or 20 times the country's annual gas consumption of 100 billion cubic meters, according to data from BVEG, the German Federal Association of Natural Gas, Petroleum and Geoenergy cited by The Globe and Mail.

Germany is also debating whether to end nuclear power generation at the end of 2022, as planned, in light of the gas crisis. Germany has three remaining nuclear power plants operating, and they should be shut by the end of this year under a plan the country adopted to stop the use of nuclear energy following the Fukushima disaster. Last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signaled that "it could make sense" to keep its nuclear power plants operating.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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