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French government confirms ban of hydraulic fracturing

20 Jul 2012 16:04:15 | esgm

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The exploitation of France's unconventional gas resources is not in the agenda of the country's government, ecology minister Delphine Batho said on Friday.

The statement follows a flurry of rumours in the past week on a possible rethinking by the government on the exploration and production of shale gas.

Arnaud Montebourg, France's minister of industrial renewal hinted to a possible reconsideration on the matter at the beginning of July.

However, Batho underlined on Friday that, as it has not been proven yet that shale gas exploration could be conducted without generating significant environmental and health damages, there is no reason for the government to revise its position on the subject.

The French government had banned the use of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas exploration in July 2011 because of the environmental concerns related to this controversial practice.

The government never approved a ban of shale gas exploration per se, though, but only of the hydraulic fracturing - also know as "fracking" - method.

In September 2011, Paris-headquartered oil and gas giant Total submitted a report to the French authorities with regard to the exploration methods for unconventional gas used by the company in its exploration license of Montélimar, in southern France.

"The work programme described in the report does not envisage the use of the hydraulic fracturing technique," Total said (see ESGM 13 September 2011).

In spite of this, the government chose to annul Total's exploration permit.

The issue of shale gas was then put on hold in the months preceding the French presidential elections at the beginning of May, but the new government does not seem available to head in a different direction. DB

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