FracTracker Touring a Bit of Europe

Basel_Berlin_DornbirnBy Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH – Manager of Science and Communications, FracTracker Alliance

I stare into my computer during an early morning Skype call with my hosts in Germany. As my cat stubbornly tries to join the conversation, we intently discuss international energy policies, travel plans, and audience demographics. This awkward setup is all in preparation for my upcoming whirlwind tour of Europe. On August 20 and 21, JF&C and Agora Energiewende will host roundtables with participants from their organizations, oil and gas companies, European advisory groups, Green Parliament, and me – just to name a few. This trip is in conjunction with the ISEE conference, where later in the week I will be talking about FracTracker on a panel with other experts regarding shale gas and oil extraction issues.

Hydraulic Fracturing in Europe

One of the many reasons for this trip is because Europe is where the United States was several years ago with regard to the status of drilling, but their circumstances are vastly different. Where the U.S. moved quickly (in most cases) to utilize hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas and oil, many countries in Europe are only now starting to explore this as an energy option. Some countries, such as France, outright banned the process. Whereas Poland, for many reasons, has embraced the relatively new technology. Just in terms of space, however, Europe is not an ideal location to drill. If you believe Google, in 2011 Europe hosted ~739 million people in an area of 10.82 million km2 – vs. the US in 2012 with ~314 million people in an area of 9.83 million km2. There are several other special considerations that would need to be made in order for Europeans to allow drilling operations like those that involve hydraulic fracturing in their backyards. One such technological advancement, I learned recently, is the option for wells to be completely enclosed (which helps to shield neighbors from potential air, smell, and noise pollution). Whether that refers to an enclosure during drilling or after, remains to be seen. Regardless, I am excited to share my shale gas experiences with others in Europe, but I am even more eager to learn how our experiences differ… The other reason for this trip is for vacation. Can’t fault that!


  • Aug 19-23 (All Day): ISEE Conference. Basel, Switzerland
  • Aug 20 (12:00–15:30): JF&C Roundtable. Berlin, Germany
  • Aug 20 (16:00–18:00): Agora Energiewende Roundtable. Berlin, Germany
  • Aug 21 (Morning Meetings): Various groups. Berlin, Germany
  • Aug 22 (14:00-15:30): Conference Panel, S-3-30: Environmental & Occupational Health Risks from Fracking & Natural Gas Extraction. Congress Center, Basel, Switzerland.

When I return from Europe, I plan to write a follow up blog piece (with pictures of my own instead of stock ones). Stay tuned!