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Final Report on Unconventional Gas in Europe

Legal opinion prepared by the law firm Philippe & Partners - Brussels, 8 November 2011 for the Directorate-General for Energy in the European Commission and expresses the opinion of the organisation undertaking the study. 

The European Commission (the “Commission”) selected the Brussels-based law firm Philippe & Partners to carry out the study “EC TENDER TREN/R1/350-2008 lot 1 on Unconventional Gas in Europe” (the “Study”). The main purpose of the Study is to analyse how the relevant applicable European legal framework, including environmental law, is applied to the licensing/authorisation and operational permitting for prospection, exploration and production/exploitation of shale gas based on a sample of four Member States, i.e. Poland, France, Germany and Sweden.

It is, however, not purpose of the study to assess whether Member State legislation based on EU legislation has been properly transposed.

This study focuses on shale gas exploration, because shale gas is the type of unconventional gas most discussed and contentious currently. Also, compared to tight gas and coal bed methane, relatively less experience exists in Europe for shale formations as new source of natural gas. The focus on exploration is due to the stage of projects in Europe. No commercial scale shale gas exploitation has taken place yet and it is only expected in a few years time. Nevertheless, this study also takes into account a possible future production phase and especially analyses legal issues especially related to the transfer from exploration to production stage.


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