• Natural Gas News

    Romania: Violence Flares at Chevron Shale Site



Protesters gathered at Chevron’s shale gas exploration site in the Vaslui area after the multinational announced an resumption in its activities.


Posted in:

Natural Gas & LNG News, News By Country, Romania, Shale Gas

Romania: Violence Flares at Chevron Shale Site

Saturday saw a reported 400 protesters gather at Chevron’s shale gas exploration site in the Vaslui area after the multinational announced an resumption in its activities.

Shale gas opponents threw stones and demolished the company’s fences,  resulting in a strong intervention by the gendarmerie in an attempt to re-establish security of the site.

According to reports from the area late Saturday, approximately 100 people were being held in custody at the County Police Department in Vaslui.  

On Saturday afternoon, the gendarmes had evacuated the area where the tents and sheds were located in Pungesti and the protesters were advised to leave the perimeter area. A special security area has been declared in Pungesti, which will see the deployed of additional police and some restrictions in area.

Amongst the protesters were members of environment protection organizations and of civil rights organizations who came in the area to support the locals in their protest against Chevron’s desire to resume activities at its first planned shale gas exploration bore.

In a press release, the gendarmerie said that their invention was directed at restoring order and to prevent any actions that might heighten tensions.  Shale gas opponent decried the use of police intervention to facilitate exploitation of Romanian resources by the US based company against the wishes of the local community.

On Saturday evening, the center of Bucharest saw approximately one thousand protesters shouting slogans against the government and against Chevron, gather in support of the communities at risk. The gathering was not without incident, as the protesters were angered by the fact that law enforcement denied them access to the roadway and forced them to identify themselves.

George Epurescu, of the “Romania without Them” movement (www.romaniafaraei.ro) said: “the law says that an action that can be considered a crime is not punished if it is done in order to stop another crime in progress. This situation is serious because we are talking about the armed assault of the state against its citizens. In Pungesti there is a military dictatorship.”

Georgian Enache, spokesman for the Bucharest Gendarmerie said: “by limiting perimeters with gendarmes the protesters were prevented from blocking the traffic and were not allowed to go to other areas. We mention that the protesters have no permit for their manifestation and blocking an access way is a crime. When a group of people want to move and to force the perimeter established by the gendarmes it is normal to stop them.”

Cam Van Ast, External Communications Advisor Chevron Europe, stated: “Chevron can confirm that it has resumed operations activities in Silistea, Pungesti commune, Vaslui County. Chevron will undertake only exploration activities with conventional technologies in block EV-2, under our existing permits and approvals, which we obtained at the start of October 2013. Our priority is to conduct these activities in a safe and environmentally responsible manner consistent with the permits under which we operate. Chevron is committed to building constructive and positive relationships with the communities where we operate and we will continue our dialogue with the public, local communities and authorities on our projects. While we respect the right of individuals to express their opinions, it should be done within the law.”

Epurescu stated that the actions of the protesters will not until Chevron its development activities.

 “The right of the community comes first in face of other business, as long as they are not of national interest. The action of Chevron is illegal because the Government Decision approving the oil agreement is not about shale gas. Thus the agreement and the subsequent documents are illegal. The exploitation can be made only based on an organic law and for shale gas there is no law. Chevron does not have the agreement of the neighbors of the plot and the lease contract contains abusive provisions. But the justice system is slow and, until we reach a decision, the exploration will be over.”


Text: Silviu Molnar