'Fracking' chems analysis no big concern – Polish ministry

18 October 2011 16:07  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Poland’s economy ministry is not overly concerned that preliminary analysis by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) shows the use of hazardous chemicals in hydraulic fracturing for shale gas may be technically illegal in the EU, the ministry said on Tuesday.

The ECHA recently reached the initial conclusion that chemicals that would most probably be used in future fracturing, or “fracking”, in Poland and other EU member states were not yet covered for such utilisation by the EU’s existing Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH) safety assessments and registrations.

“I think that if these substances have already been used in the US and Canada without causing any harm, there is no reason they should cause harm in Europe,”  said economy minister Waldemar Pawlak.

“They do not cause any particular harm to the environment so there is no need to get worked up, but there will undoubtedly be difficult dialogue with European institutions [to obtain the necessary registrations],” he added.

Fracking includes the injection of water, sand, and chemical additives into rock layers to release shale-gas flows into a well.

On 19 September, state gas monopoly PGNiG became the first Polish company to begin technological production of shale gas.

Austria’s Erste Group Bank has cautioned that because of environmental protection and population density obstacles, Europe would have to wait at least five years before any significant unconventional gas production was achieved.

Poland hopes to one day break its near total dependence on Russia for gas by exploiting shale-gas deposits.

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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