Romania: Shale Gas Prospecting Continues
While Chevron has suspended works at its first shale gas exploration bore in Romania's Vaslui County, it is continuing activities elsewhere in Romania.
Operator Prospectiuni SA has begun geo-physical prospecting in the perimeters of Constanta.
At the same time that seismic prospecting was announced, a video recording of a woman from Sanmihaiu Roman village in Timis County went viral. The recording was initially published in April 2013, but has become a model for the protesters.
“I do not care for money, compensations; I care only for my land. I take out the explosives to see what happens. If I die, I die. It is good it is allowed to place explosives, but I am not allowed to take it out.”
Monks from Putna monastery in Northern Romania have ceased geo-physical prospecting on monastery land, citing water contamination with hydrogen sulfide.
Father superior Melchisedec Velnic asked Suceava County Prefecture to block the activity of the company, which they claim is looking for shale gas, even if the perimeter is investigated for methane gas. The monks discovered that certain springs around the monastery are slightly contaminated with hydrogen sulfide resulting from geological prospecting. Father Iustin, the monastery’s legal councilor, has taken legal procedures to forbid geological prospecting of the lands belonging to Putna Monastery.
“The activity of SC Prospectiuni SA in the 304 sq. km perimeter in Brodina-Ciumarna-Sucevita-Vicovul de Sus poses serious risks for the soil, underground, waters and forests around Putna Monastery and Bucovina Verde Association. The procedure implies the detonation of dynamite in each of the 15,000 holes, which are dug 5-10 meters deep and can cause seismic waves up to 10 kms long, that can cause natural unbalances. That is, a rupture of sulfuric gas pockets underground, spring contamination, earthquakes, and a degradation of soil and historical monuments,” explained Father Iustin Taban to Intermedia Suceava Television.
Mihai Mitroi, vice president of Prospectiuni SA said in an interview published on the company website: “The impact of seismic data acquisition works is registered on short and very short term, having a localized character, temporary and reversible. The effects of this activity disappear when the activity is stopped. […] Our activity has no impact over the outlook of the area where works were done. After the lands are cleaned, according to the company’s interior regulations, the lands are restored to their initial form.”
When talking about seismic prospecting to be done within the Vama Veche perimeter, Mihail Mitroi said: “What we are doing is 800 kms of seismic profiling in two areas, in line. There are many lines one next to another, at 10 km, 15 km apart and parallel. The total length of the lines in areas 17 and 18 is of 800 km, and adding area 19 we have a total of 1,100 kms.”
Mitroi said that prospecting will be done only on the lands around villages in southern Dobrogea: “We are trying to go around the villages. There we cannot do our job properly; we cannot enter the villages with our equipment. […] It is pointless to go to Costinesti, Vama Veche, Venus or Mangalia areas; we do not go in there.”
“In every village was held a meeting announced by the mayors. We have asked the mayors to support us in organizing these meetings and tried to explain what our works are about. Now we are in the stage where we map out these alignments, after which we talk to the land owner and offer compensations for this chute we are making through his crop”, said Mihai Mitroi.
The group Baricada Verde from Constanta has asked the citizens of Constanta to participate in the 8th march against shale gas exploitation using hydraulic fracking. The participants made common cause with the protesters in Bucharest, Cluj, Campeni and the other 60 places in the country and abroad where demonstrations took place. The protesters had banners saying “Ponta Government, best government money can buy” and “We want culture not cyanide” or “No to shale gas exploitation.”
Over 200 people gathered in Mangalia to protest against Chevron and shale gas, the participants being concerned about water contamination and destruction of tourism in the seaside region of the Black Sea.
Sorin Belu, representative of Baricada Verde, explained to evz.ro that the protesters are against hydraulic fracking technology “because, unlike in America where the places where this method is used are hundreds of kms away, in Dobrogea the places are close together, not to mention the fact that the underground water is close to the surface and by injecting toxic substances it can be affected.”
Thomas Holst, manager of Chevron Romania in a statement for mangalia.tv: “The water resources will not be affected during geo-physical prospecting. The water will not be used; the only water used will be that used by the workers, 150 people, who will drink bottled water. For the next stage, the drilling stage, water will be used for drilling. […] In order to use the water one must obtain approvals; the water authority in Constanta will decide what water sources can be used.”
Professor Doctor Nicolae Anastasiu, Corresponding Member of the Romanian Academy explains: “In Romania and worldwide, the method has been used for more than 80 years, with better and better performances and resolutions. The 2D – plane or 3D – tridimensional images obtained are the key to discover areas with oil, gas or water potential. Based on it were discovered almost all known hydrocarbon deposits in the world. It is a non-destructive method and with no risk on the environment. Using it cannot cause, in any way, an earthquake and cannot contaminate the underground waters.”
Holst further commented, “We have had licenses here for 30 years. In the first five years we had the right to explore, meaning prospecting activities and then we will need a permit for exploitation. The current geo-physical stage takes six months and will allow us to ascertain where the shale gas layer is thickest. Our objective is to find these areas, because there we will want to drill. So, in one year or one and a half years, our objective is to start drilling activities, to take rock samples and analyze them. Based on the results we will be able to talk to the Romanian Government about the existence of gas resources.”