Romania to review moratorium on shale gas
A new center-left government put a halt to Chevron's plans to do exploratory gas drilling after it came into power in May.
Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 01:58 PM
NOT EXACTLY POPULAR: Romanian girls holds placards reading in Romanian 'NO to the shale gas exploition' (left) and 'We want clean water, not contaminated' (right) during a protest near Bucharest in March. (Photo: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP)
BUCHAREST — Romania will review its stand on shale gas when a drilling moratorium expires in December and align itself with a future joint EU position on the controversial issue, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on June 22.
"There is a moratorium (on shale gas) until December," Ponta told foreign media in Bucharest.
"After that, we plan to adopt a decision that takes into account both concerns over environment protection and the importance of alternative energy sources for Romania," he added.
Ponta, whose Social-Democrat Party has campaigned against shale gas tapping, said time was not of the essence, since the exploration phase would not be over before 2018.
"In six years' time technology will evolve a lot and a decision will be taken at a European level regarding the dangers linked to it and the way to do away with them," he said.
"We want to be neither the only country to accept shale gas tapping nor the only one to oppose it."
Ponta's center-left government adopted a moratorium on shale gas soon after coming to power in May, putting on hold plans by American oil giant Chevron to drill the first exploration well in the second half of 2012.
Chevron has a concession on 600,000 hectares in the Barlad area (east) and three others in the Dobroudja region (south-east), near the Bulgarian border.
Its plans sparked opposition from environmentalists who insist the drilling technique, based on hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking', poses serious environment and health risks.
'Fracking' uses high pressure injections of water, sand and chemicals to crack open rock and release oil and gas trapped inside.
The technique has been banned by countries such as France and Bulgaria.
Copyright 2012 AFP Global Edition