Since 2010, when Germany imposed a moratorium on the use of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in shale gas extraction, German gas companies have been lobbying for the ban to be lifted.
“Lifting a ban on fracking in Germany is unlikely to have any significant impact on the country's domestic gas production in the foreseeable future. Obstacles abound, including opposition to drilling and uncertainty about the levels of reserves,” Fitch Ratings concluded in an analysis posted on its website on Tuesday.
The rating agency explained that because of the decline in gas prices in 2014, global shale gas exploration was reduced. Wide-scale shale production remains limited to the United States and Canada.
Germany is estimated to have up to 2.3 trillion cubic meters of shale gas reserves. If fracking is allowed, Germany could become less dependent on energy supplies from Russia and would be more competitive with the United States in securing energy supplies.
The drilling technology, which involves pumping a highly-toxic mix of chemicals into the ground at high pressure to break up rocks and release natural gas and crude oil, increases the danger of earthquakes and can lead to significant ground water pollution, according to a recent study by the Berlin-based Energy Watch Group.