Austria: Calls for Legislative Change to Block Shale Gas Development
The Governor of Lower Austria has called for legislative changes to be introduce to preclude the drilling for shale gas due to concerns over the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing.
Geological studies conducted by OMV AG have shown the potential for large shale gas reserves in the Lower Austria which could cover domestic requirements for a period of 30 years.
Erwin Pröll, Landeshauptmann of the northeasternmost state of the nine states in Austria, has called for local input and for the closure of a on “legal loophole” that does not presently require environmental impact assessments to be conducted in advance of drilling.
The Austrian energy giant is planning test drillings in the region around Poysdorf, located in the Weinviertel (wine quarter). At present, test drillings can be conducted with permission from Austria’s Mining Authority.
OMV has been actively seeking community support for shale gas development, assuring concerned citizens that its activities will be undertaken in a safe and responsible manner.
Christopher Veit, Managing Director of OMV Austria, said that the company would undertake an independent environmental assessments, even though it is not mandated.
Veit acknowledged that the company would not be successful with the project if it failed to promote shale gas as ecologically viable.
In addressing the contentious extraction process, an OMV spokeperson stated: “We will employ hydraulic fracturing but cannot do it in the same way as it has been done in the US, but in a more environmentally friendly way.”
OMV is proposing the use of fracking fluids containing water, sand and cornstarch and without chemicals that will be developed in conjunction with the University of Leoben. As such, it is believe that groundwater contamination will not be an issue.
OMV is planning for the first phase of testing is to begin late summer and will include two test borings to explore technical and economic feasibility.