French, US MPs Cast Serious Doubts on Shale Gas

Business » ENERGY | June 29, 2011, Wednesday // 20:35
Bulgaria: French, US MPs Cast Serious Doubts on Shale Gas US President Barack Obama meets Polish PM Donald Tusk upon a visit to Poland in May, at which shale gas was one of the chief topics of discussion. Poland is the first and major European producer of shale gas. EPA/BGNES

France is set to become the first country in the world to ban the production of shale gas, when lawmakers give the final vote on new legislation Thursday, writes Le Monde.

Political parties in the country have reached consenus to ban the method of extraction of natural gas out of environmental concerns after large-scale protests of residents of areas with already issued permits for exploration.

At the same time, the New York Times writes that three Democrat members of the House of Representatives have requested stricter government enquiry of the safety and efficiency of shale gas extraction.

This has come in the wake of a NYTimes publication that leaked worries from federal analysts who have shared their perception that scientific findings conflict messages issued by companies dealing in shale gas, and have argued that the latter are evasive in information provision.

Extracting natural gas from shale is a comparatively new practice that has been pioneered in the States to turn them from a net importer to being self-sufficient in natural gas.

It involves the procedure of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in which liquid chemicals are injected under high pressure into the ground to let out gas dissolved in a special type of rock known as shale.

Many cases have been documented in which such chemicals and natural methane have leaked into underground water, rendering it undrinkable and unfit for agricultural purposes.

It was the massive protests of French farmers and other countryfolk that prompted the legislative change set to happen Thurdsay.

The French legislation will annul permits already issued in 2010, with companies having to declare a new method of exploration within 2 months of enactment.

It previews heavy penalties for any implementation of shale gas extraction methods.

Just this June, the Bulgarian government gave a permit to US energy giant Chevron to explore for shale gas in the north-eastern section of the country.

Chevron has stated it finds the territory especially attractive, claiming it holds between 300 billion and 1 trillion cubic meters of shale gas.

Chevron's interest has been continually promoted by US Ambassador to Sofia James Warlick.

Upon signing the permit, Bulgarian Minister of Economy and Energy Traicho Traikov stated that a discovery could satisfy Bulgaria's natural gas needs for another 1,000 years.

Environmentalists in Bulgaria have already protested the permit and have called for a moratorium on all shale gas exploration and production before thorough environmental assessment of the practice is conducted.

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Tags: France, US, Chevron, shale gas, protests, environmentalists, Traicho Traikov, James Warlick, Le Monde, New York Times, natural gas, hydraulic fracturing
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