The International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) has welcomed new European Union environmental impact assessment rules as being "a step forward in making Europe more competitive without compromising on the environment". The rules will come into force following a vote in the European Parliament Wednesday.
OGP Director for EU affairs commented in a statement from the organization:
"While not imposing unnecessary requirements on the upstream oil and gas industry, the new rules will guarantee that any development, including exploration for shale gas, will be subject to strict environmental standards."
The OGP said that the new rules confirm existing differentiation between exploration and production of hydrocarbons, and that it would also ensure that the requirements for environmental protection become more stringent as a project progresses. The organization said that this approach will see time and resources applied where they matter: on full environmental studies once a project's economic potential is confirmed and its development is going ahead.
The OGP argued that too many detailed requirements during the early phase of exploration – when commercial viability of a project is uncertain and operations limited – would have undermined key investments, without bringing any additional benefit to the environment.
"The vote is a positive first step in enabling the assessment of domestic energy resources. Opportunities such as natural gas from shale must be explored and, if promising, will be crucial to encourage future economic growth and create new jobs," Festor added.
"Shale gas exploration is even more crucial now that the EU is devising its 2030 climate and energy policy. Gas is the best resource Europe has – cleaner-burning, reliable and immediately available – to help meet EU emissions reduction targets quickly and at a competitive cost versus alternatives."
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