Switzerland looks to explore natural gas deposits underneath Lake Geneva
After months of rising utility bills, many people in Switzerland are keen to look for solutions to the ongoing gas crisis. In response, politicians and entrepreneurs have come up with a novel idea to solve the issue: search and extract natural gas right here in Switzerland. Some have even suggested searching under some of the country's most famous lakes for gas deposits.
Switzerland has never extracted natural gas
According to experts, large amounts of natural gas are stored under Canton Ticino, Lake Geneva and the Juran mountains. However, Switzerland has never tapped into these deposits, preferring instead to import gas from abroad.
Historically, Switzerland has relied upon imports from gas-rich Russia, until the war in Ukraine led to sanctions being imposed on the country. Russia is now choosing to embargo several European countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Poland and Bulgaria, and the Swiss government fears it could be next.
To tackle the threat of an embargo, many politicians are pushing for new partnerships and greater cooperation with gas-exporting countries. Finance Minister Ueli Maurer (SVP) recently held talks with officials in Qatar about securing gas from the Gulf state to replace imports from Russia. Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga has been pushing for an agreement with Germany, according to which the two countries support each other in the event of a natural gas or electricity shortage.
Swiss politicians are keen to secure gas supplies before winter
Others, like Ticino entrepreneur Pietro Oesch, feel that the current strategy is unnecessary. Instead, he argues that Switzerland could rely on its own natural resources to maintain energy security. "Large natural gas deposits lie dormant in Ticino's subsoil, which could be tapped in two to three years," Oesch noted. "We could produce enough natural gas to cover all of Switzerland's needs."
Traditionally, Switzerland has refused to extract its own gas, as imported gas prices have remained relatively low in past decades. This made extracting gas from within Switzerland financially unviable, since buyers would simply get cheaper gas from abroad. That was, until now.
Some people in Switzerland are likely to oppose the idea, even though experts say the environmental impacts of prospecting for Swiss gas are minimal. Test drilling in Noville, Canton Vaud - in the area where the Rhône meets Lake Geneva - has found gas in the area, but locals have been concerned about the potential for earthquakes due to the excavations. Earthquakes have been seen to occur in several places across the globe where intense gas fracking has taken place.