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11 Apr 2022, 13:23
Julian Wettengel

Germany should examine fracking, says Bavarian state premier

Funke Mediengruppe / Clean Energy Wire

Germany should look into the option of using fracking technology to extract domestic natural gas in light of the energy crisis exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine, said Markus Söder, premier of the southern German state of Bavaria in an interview with the Funke Mediengruppe. “We have to examine what is possible and reasonable with an open mind,” said Söder. “As representatives of the people, we even have the constitutional duty to keep an unbiased eye on all options in such extraordinary times of crisis.” Söder said the United States had made itself “completely independent of the Middle East” through fracking. Opposition among the population and strict regulations have made substantial use of fracking in Germany highly unlikely until now. “Bans could be lifted,” Söder said.

Economy and climate minister Robert Habeck said his ministry and the environment ministry have no plans to change the Water Act which governs fracking in Germany. This meant that "unconventional fracking is largely prohibited in Germany." At a press conference in Berlin, the minister added it would also take too long to be of help in the current crisis. "I don't think this is the way we should go, and it doesn't really help us in the scenarios we are currently calculating." In any case, gas would only serve as a bridging fuel to climate neutrality. "The bridge over natural gas is getting shorter and shorter. That means building up electrification and then ramping up hydrogen. This is not the best basis for an investment decision for fracking and natural gas," said Habeck.

The German government said it aims to make the country independent of Russian gas supplies by 2024. Most gas consumed in Germany is imported, with only about five percent being extracted domestically. Hydraulic fracturing – the extraction method often simply referred to as “fracking” – produces fractures in the rock formation that stimulate the flow of natural gas or oil and increase the volumes that can be recovered. However, it does so by using chemicals and high amounts of pressure, which can lead to environmental damages, such as water pollution, or even earthquakes.

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