Germany has reiterated its opposition to fracking by rubbishing a report in news magazine Der Spiegel that it was looking at relaxing rules to allow test drilling.
Currently fracking is only allowed below a depth of 3,000m in Germany – a measure designed to protect groundwater supplies – but Der Spiegel had reported that this depth boundary would be scrapped.
A spokeswoman for the Environment Ministry denied the report but did not rule out that fracking might one day be allowed in Germany as technology progresses.
The technique, which involves pumping water and chemicals at high pressure through drill holes to prise open rocks containing shale gas, has been used in Germany for deep-lying, or ‘tight’ gas, but there has been an effective moratorium on new permits for the last two years pending new rules.
Germany's Federal Institute for Geosciences two years ago put the country's shale gas potential between 0.7 trillion and 2.3 trillion cubic metres.
Many Germans are nervous about the practice due to fears of possible contamination of drinking water, but German industry is keen to exploit the resource, which has slashed energy costs in the US, to counter rising prices that it believes are damaging its competitiveness.