Just a month after lifting the 2019 ban on fracking, newly appointed British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has reinstated the ban. Despite an unprecedented energy shortfall in Europe brought on by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Britain will import its fuel from abroad leaving some 1,329 trillion cubic feet of natural gas right under its feet.
As winter sets in Europe is beginning to feel the effects of the energy crisis. People have been urged to lower thermostats, limit showers, and forego unnecessary travel. Manufacturing and other energy intensive businesses have also been hit hard, with many closing their doors or shifting production overseas.
Europe’s forced decoupling from Russian energy has sparked significant investment in energy production, with renewables being the primary beneficiary. However, getting new renewable energy projects up and running has been far from immediate and hampered significantly by supply chain issues. In the meantime, Europe has brought many previously shuttered coal and nuclear facilities back online to bridge the gap.
Whether unwilling or unable to produce its own natural gas, Europe’s need for the critical fuel over the winter and years to come will remain robust and without Russia there to supply it alternative exporters like the U.S. and Qatar are stepping in. American natural gas is among the cleanest produced energy anywhere in the world and with significant untapped reserves could serve as a lifeline for Europe in this trying time. However, with pipeline projects still in limbo due to ongoing litigation the infrastructure to get the gas to market remains insufficient.
Approving pipeline projects and increasing natural gas production is the best option to alleviate energy ailments, providing a cheap, clean, and reliable source of energy to ensure a smooth energy transition.