Panelists at a weekend security conference in Munich warned Europe must develop a strategy on how to tap its own resources in order to keep energy costs competitive, or risk seeing power-intensive industries locate elsewhere.
"The shale gas and oil boom is already underway. As Europe continues to debate it, North America is reaping the advantages," said Jorma Ollila, Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell. . . .
(France's) reserves are . . . estimated to be Europe's largest at 180 trillion cubic feet.
France has banned . . . fracking which is used to extract shale gas and which involves pumping vast quantities of water and chemicals at high pressure through drill holes to prop open shale rocks.
Environmentalists fear it could increase seismic risks and pollute drinking water. U.S. officials question this and say that thanks to the higher proportion of gas use the United States has had its lowest carbon dioxide emissions in 20 years.
"Observing this from across the Atlantic it is really quite remarkable that there should be a ban or a go-slow on this development in Europe, really without any facts," said Daniel Yergin, Vice-Chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research.
Fracking is used to produce a third of U.S. natural gas he said, showing the environmental impact can be managed.
World energy market flows already reflect North America's scramble to exploit shale oil and gas and highlight the potential prize Europe is ignoring.
"The U.S. internal energy revolution and the radical increases in production of oil and gas have boosted gas production by 25 percent and seen oil import dependence drop from 60 percent to 40 percent, and expected to decline further to 30 percent," said Carlos Pascual, the U.S. special envoy for energy affairs.
While Europe retains deep environmental concerns it also acknowledges that with the price of gas in the United States just a third of that in Germany, its industry is already suffering the effects.
German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said: "Many German firms have opted for (relocation to) the United States, saying energy prices were the decisive factor...We are already seeing that we are suffering with our higher energy prices…it affects our own competiveness."
Addressing the panel in Munich European Union Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Europe should be in a position to produce enough shale gas to replace its depleting conventional gas reserves, so as not to become more dependent on imports. . . . 
A recent confidential study by the German intelligence agency (BND) suggested the United States could turn from being the world's greatest energy importer into an oil and gas exporter by 2020, reducing its dependence on the Middle East and thereby giving it much more freedom in policy making.
China by contrast would become much more dependent on Middle East oil to fuel its rapid expansion."
The U.S. is drilling lots of oil and gas these days. While we're not in any way approaching the "maxed out" stage, we are developing much more than we ever have in our history.