France reiterates hydraulic fracturing ban
London, 20 July (Argus) — France's new government has no plans to revisit a ban on the use of hydraulic fracturing that has effectively halted the development of the country's potentially significant shale gas reserves.
The government's position on the prohibition of shale gas developments is “clear and distinct”, environment minister Delphine Batho said. “Nowhere in the world has it been shown that [shale gas] can be developed without doing considerable damage to the environment or running significant public health risks.”
France banned the use of hydraulic fracturing in May last year, and in October it rescinded three shale permits it had awarded in March 2010, two licenced to US firm Schuepbach Energy and the other to Total.
A study commissioned by the US EIA last year pegged France's technically recoverable shale gas reserves at just over 5 trillion m³, which would give the country larger gas reserves than even Norway. The same study estimated Norway's combined conventional and shale reserves at 4.4 trillion m³.
At the time the ban was passed French oil industry association Ufip said it “regretted” the decision. “No one today knows with certainty if the potential of shale hydrocarbons beneath France is sufficiently promising to envisage industrial exploitation. The companies simply ask to be able to complete their research and draw up a balance sheet of the situation,” it said.
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