MVA ASOCIADOS. Montalvo Villaseñor Abril

Fracking in Spain: under way*

The debate over the exploitation of shale gas reservoirs in Spain: confronted interests

An intense debate over fracking activities has arisen in Spain: reservoirs are foreseen to cover domestic demand of natural gas for the next 70 years , but social and environmental concerns must be balanced with economic interests.

The hydraulic fracturing (or fracking, as it is also called in Spain) is on the spotlight since important reservoirs of shale gas (and eventually shale oil) allegedly lay mainly beneath the territory of the Northern regions (Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Castilla y León). Even though no perforation or exploitation have taken place yet, investigations are currently being carried out by energy companies interested in this new energy source, which is expected to substantially reduce the Spanish dependence on gas imports .

In this subject, a wide variety of interests confront: In one end of the spectrum, there are serious environmental concerns, as fracking is considered by some as highly contaminant for soils, water and air and even potential cause of earthquakes. Ecologist groups are leading the fight against the authorization of fracking activities and strive for either regional or central governments approving banning regulations on the subject.

In the other end, the energy companies see fracking as a potentially lucrative way of obtaining natural gas (a more environmentally friendly fuel, cheaper than other energy resources) which may offer them big profit either by selling it to the Spanish gas system or by exporting it overseas .

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