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Shale development is a European economic imperative. Yet, only a handful of countries are seriously contemplating shale development at this time. The failure to act now in preparation for a post-2020 economy displays strategic short-sightedness and does not bode well for mid-and long-term EU economic well-being and competitiveness.
In contrast, North America has embraced shale development. As a result, the price of natural gas in the US has declined to less than one-third the price of natural gas in Europe. This has been a boon to the US economy and helped US manufacturers achieve significant competitive advantages over Europe in some industry sectors - with the prospects of even greater advantages ahead.
In 2011, after the accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, the International Energy Agency (IEA), in its special edition World Energy Outlook, indicated the 'golden age' of natural gas during the period to 2035. It based this prediction on the following expectations:
1) Enormous economic growth in China coupled with significant natural gas consumption,
2) A low share of nuclear energy in electric power generation,
3) An increase in the use of natural gas in the transportation sector,
4) A boom unconventional gas and its low prices.
A new era and an uncertain future
Few would go against the view that energy companies and policy makers are facing significant challenges as we enter a new era. The issues to be addressed are many: can we count on technological breakthroughs to cope with surging energy demand and at the same time handle the long term environmental constraints? What type of regulatory framework is most likely to provide the incentives for the necessary changes to take place? To what extent are nations ready to cooperate in addressing global energy challenges? Can we be assured that capital markets will provide the tremendous funds needed to develop energy infrastructures and improve energy efficiency?
What is the impact of the commodities market on business cycles and individual decisions?
This was the focus of the December edition of INFO Magazine, The French Chamber of Commerce in Great Britain's bi-monthly magazine.
Several RCEM experts contributed to this fascinating point of discussion, and we are delighted to share the complete set of articles available to the Centre's subscribers.