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HOUSTON, May 5 (Reuters) - European countries should make a push to start producing shale gas if they hope to reduce reliance on Russian natural gas, Britain's energy minister said on Monday. Many European Union countries have yet to allow or encourage the extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which uses a mix of pressurized water, sand an chemicals to unlock hydrocarbons from rocky deposits.

"There are a number of European countries that are extremely dependent on Russian gas," Britain's Minister of State for Business and Energy Michael Fallon told Reuters. -