Schuepbach: Court Decision on Compensation Due in March
US Schuepbach Energy is expecting the administrative court of Cergy Pontoise to make a decision in March on its claim for damages. The would-be French shale gas producer is seeking €117mn as partial compensation for the loss of two shale gas permits in the southeast of France granted before the anti-fracking ban was passed in 2011 but repealed soon after.
The Nant permit covers 4,414 km2 and 4 departments: Herault, Gard, Aveyron and Lozere. The Villeneuve-de-Berg permit covers 931 km2 in the department of Ardeche. The US company argued that because of the repeal of the two permits it lost money in terms of financial investments and profits the company could have made if potential resources had been exploited.
During the hearing which took place on February 5, the public prosecutor of the administrative court of Cergy Pontoise said: “Schuepbach is not entitled to any financial compensation,” according to Jose Bove, a well-known figure of the green movement who led the fight locally in 2010 and 2011, also member of the European parliament.
The public prosecutor considers that French authorities have no responsibility, pointing out that the repeal of the Villeneuve de Berg permit for instance has been judged legal. “The conclusions from the public prosecutor make good sense and confirm the possibility to ban the hydraulic fracturing technique and shale gas exploration and development,” Bove said.
On December, 22 the same French court had already ruled against Schuepbach. The oil company sued the French state over the abrogation of the two permits. The ruling could seem surprising giving the fact that the Montélimar permit was re-awarded to Total on January 28. The difference between the two decisions is that Total made no mention in its permit of the banned hydraulic fracturing technique while Schuepbach made no secret it would use it.
The legal decision regarding Total has sparked strong reactions. France’s energy and environment minister Ségolène Royal said that the government would appeal the ruling. In the meantime, advocacy groups call for an anti-fracking protest on February, 28 in Barjac. Environmental organizations seek the repeal of all existing permits and ongoing exploring requests. More than 130 permit requests are under consideration.