Russia eyes shale gas development

(AFP Photo / Mladen Antonov)
Russia could join the global shale revolution as the country’s Ministry of Energy is reportedly going to provide the government with a plan for shale gas development in the country.

­Though Russia doesn’t feel the need for shale resources, it should master the technology that made the US shale gas revolution possible, the Ministry of Energy stressed. Shale gas could be used as an energy source for the remote Russian regions that aren’t connected to main gas pipelines, it said.

According to the plan, Russia’s state-owned energy majors Rosneft and Gazprom should start shale gas production at test sites after sufficient exploration of the country’s resources.

The ministry was due to present its plan to PM Dmitry Medvedev at the meeting on Thursday, but the meeting didn’t take place, Finmarket news agency reported, citing Minister of Natural Resources Sergey Donskoy.

Earlier this year Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development warned that the US “shale revolution” and the development of liquefied natural gas could seriously eat into the country’s export revenues. By 2016 Gazprom could face challenges selling gas abroad as the US could become the leader in the world gas market.

Russia’s Account Chamber reportedly planed to send requests to Russia’s Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Energy to get full and up to date information on shale gas development abroad.

Gazprom stressed it is going to develop the extraction of shale oil rather than shale gas in Russia. The Gazprom Neft is going to gain experience of shale oil production though the development of a joint project with Anglo-Dutch Shell at the Verkhne-Salym oil deposit in Western Siberia.

Shale gas production is widely considered as a cheap alternative to traditional gas. But it has been also criticized over negative effects on the environment and possibly people's health.