France Extends Shale Moratorium
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has extended and expanded Friday moratorium on gas and oil shale by two months.
Research and work is now suspended until the end of the first half of June, when the final conclusions are expected in two reports commissioned by the government in parallel. Initially the ban was to expire date in mid-April.
France possesses large reserves of gas and oil shale but environmentalists have questioned drilling methods which they say are harmful to the environment.
Concerns revolve around the technique of hydraulic fracturing which involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the rock, to draw the gas or oil in the pipes.
In correspondence sent Friday to the Ministers of Ecology, Interior and Economy, Fillon said that the moratorium will now impact research permits and work permits.
France has awarded three shale gas exploration licenses in March to Total SA, Schuepbach Energy LLC, and GDF Suez. These licenses cover more than 10 000 km2 on the departments of Hérault, Aveyron, Lozère, Ardèche and Drôme.
Schuepbach was planning to drill two wells in October to search for shale gas while Total had plans for a first well at the start of 2012.
In the case of work permits already issued for shale oil, they will be suspended.
Toreador planned to start in March the first of three wells at the Chateau Thierry permit outside Paris, while Vermilion was planning to fracture shale rock in three existing wells this month. (Read More HERE)
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