Significant Natural Gas Discovery in Switzerland
Valère Gogniat of Swiss Daily Le Temps reports that significant natural gas reserves were discovered under Lake Geneva, also known as “lac Léman.”
There is a natural gas under Lake Geneva. And there is enough of it for its exploitation to be lucrative. A technical report was recently published by the company Petrosvibri. It states that “significant reserves” of “tight gas” were discovered in Lake Geneva. “This means that there is great interest for the operation,” stated two sources who had access to the file. For now, the company “is evaluating with which hydraulic fracturing technologies” it could best recover the gas and “at what cost.”
In 2009 already, after the exploratory phase had launched, Petrosvibri announced the discovery of “gas trapped in tight sandstone”. Since then, the report was distributed to the various stakeholders of the project in order to determine the potential of the reservoir. But further exploration may be necessary before the operations can begin in earnest. The document should be released in the coming weeks. Contacted last Thursday, Petrosvibri did not want to detail more information or specify the exact amount of gas that lies at the bottom of the lake.
Sources close to the project estimated that operating costs could amount to 750 million Swiss francs, an amount that Petrosvibri claims to be unrealistic. It is not yet known whether the company will carry the operation on its own, or if it will confide it to a third party.
Which techniques will be used for extraction is not yet known either. For if the “tight gas” is not, strictly speaking, shale gas, “the extraction method is similar in essence: the deposit needs to be stimulated artificially, via fracturing (or fracking) for example, “says Jon Mosar, professor of geology at the University of Fribourg. This method consists in “aerating” the rock by injecting water at high pressure mixed with chemicals. The goal: to create an artificial porosity, which facilitates drilling by releasing the gas retained in the rock. The practice is often criticized because there is a risk of creating fractures in neighboring geological zones.
“A few years ago, everyone would have considered this news a godsend,” says Jon Mosar. “Today, experts consider it more risky and requiring further study.”
A future goal will still be to secure a permit issued by the proper authorities. Politicians will need to be convinced that the operation will be conducted in strict compliance with labor and environmental rules…