A majority of Danes think that shale gas should be part of Denmark’s energy future should upcoming exploratory drilling reveals a treasure trove of natural gas, according to a survey conducted by Jyllands-Posten and the research firm Wilke.
More than half of Danes surveyed supported exploiting shale gas in the future as an energy supply, while a quarter said no, and the remaining group chose 'do not know' as their response.
Radikale environmental spokesperson Lone Loklindt believes that environmental considerations should be given high priority.
"It is my fundamental view that shale gas should be extracted only if it can be done without harming the environment and our drinking water,” Loklindt told Jyllands-Posten.
What the frack?
Shale gas is natural gas that is found trapped within underground shale formations. It has become an increasingly important source of natural gas worldwide.
The hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, process used to extract the gas is the subject of much controversy. Fracking uses a pressurised liquid (usually water mixed with sand and chemicals) which is injected into a well bore to create small fractures in the deep-rock formations to allow the natural gas trapped within the rock to be forced into the well. Proponents of fracking cite the economic benefits of being able to get to vast amounts of previously inaccessible natural gas, while opponents decry fracking’s environmental impact, including the potential contamination of ground water, air and noise pollution, the possibility of the process triggering earthquakes and the possible negative health effects of the environmental risks.
The value of any shale gas in Denmark remains to be seen. Frederikshavn council recently agreed to drill the first test wells in conjunction with the French company Total and the state’s oil company, Nordsøfonden. They will attempt to determine if extracting Danish shale gas is economically viable.
Lars Christian Lilleholt, Venstre’s energy spokesperson, is excited about the prospect of Danish shale gas.
"If there is shale gas under Danish soil and it is possible to extract it without harming the surrounding environment, then we should do it,” he told Jyllands-Posten.
Several green organisations and Enhedslisten have claimed that support for shale gas is contrary to the government’s stated plans for a fossil-free Denmark by 2050.
Greenpeace expressed disappointment with the embracing of fracking.
"It shows that there has not been an adequate public debate on shale gas and the basic environmental problems,” said Greenpeace climate and energy expert Tarjei Haaland. “It is my opinion that when people really find out how it is done, their attitude will change.”