German oil exec: country’s clean energy dream now a ‘nightmare’

The head of Germany’s largest oil and gas producer painted a dour scenario for delegates at IHS CERAWeek on Wednesday, saying the country’s dream of clean power and fears surrounding drilling are constraining its energy supply.

Rainier Seele, chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Wintershall Holding, said environmental concerns surrounding drilling threaten to keep shale gas in the ground in Germany, even as the United States and other nations aggressively tap newly accessible supplies.

The effects could ripple throughout the oil and gas market and constrain even planned infrastructure developments, Seele suggested.

“Why should someone lay a pipeline when there is no gas to fill it?” Seele questioned.

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Seele noted that has been at least two years since German regulators allowed a well to be stimulated using hydraulic fracturing, a technique that involves pumping water, sand and chemicals underground to extract hydrocarbons for the pores of dense rock formations.

Seele also said Germany’s clean energy dream “is becoming a nightmare,” especially as coal-fired power plants replace nuclear power in the country. Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, chancellor Angela Merkel announced plans to phase out nuclear power in the country.

Joseph Geagea, president of Chevron Gas and Midstream, echoed some of Seele’s concerns. Europe is doing relatively little to restrain demand and encourage efficiency, even though it has restricted some new energy sources.

“What I see increasingly are policies that rule things out of the energy mix,” Geagea said.