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Chinese and EU Shale Gas Politics

Katja Biedenkopf, Diarmuid Torney

The rise of unconventional sources of energy, in particular the surge of shale gas exploitation, could lead to a global power shift. The increasing extraction of gas from shale in the US and potentially some other countries in Eastern Europe and Eurasia is likely to have a number of implications, for example, on the international gas market and the development of other sources of energy especially from renewable sources and on geopolitics. This paper provides a comparative analysis of Chinese and European shale gas politics and their implications. China and Europe differ with regard to their shale gas resources and related foreign and domestic policies. China and some European countries such as Poland have shale gas resources but their exploitation is less developed than in the US. The exploitation of these resources is in its infancy. The political, regulatory and technological challenges that China and the EU face differ. For China, a major challenge is to acquire the technology and know-how related to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling since the extraction of gas from shale requires complex and expensive techniques. For Europe, a major challenge relates to environmental and health protection. This paper compares the potential opportunities and challenges of shale gas for China and the EU. It discusses the domestic and foreign policy implications of shale gas exploitation and the consequences of increased shale gas extraction for EU-China relations and international politics.



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