Sarkozy: Shale Gas Extraction Can't be Done at Any Price

President Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed the repeal of shale gas exploration licenses announced by Monday by Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet and Industry Minister Eric Besson.

Visiting the Gard region in southern France, home to Cevennes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Sarkozy said would be no exploration for shale gas in the region.

"I want to take the opportunity I have here to confirm that there will no exploitation of shale gas by hydraulic fracturing in this exceptional area," Sarkozy said.

The President reiterated that his government won't authorize the drilling for shale gas until the technology is proven to be environmentally clean.

Monday’s decision revoked three permits awarded in 2010 for the exploration of shale gas in the area -- one to Total and two to US-based Schuepbach Energy.

The verdict, though unexpected, was celebrated by opponents to shale gas extraction in France.  Even José Bové, leader of the anti-shale gas movement, said he was "very surprised by this decision."

The French Union of Petroleum Industries (UFIP) said the decision to revoke the permits was "prejudicial to the French economy" and warned it would send a "negative signal to international investors."

"These decisions will prevent the identification and evaluation of the potential of new national energy resources, while France imports 99 per cent of its petrol consumption and 98 per cent of its gas consumption," UFIP said.

Formal notifcation of the revocation will occur with the publication of the government’s decsion in the Official Gazette on October 13th

It will also provide clarity on the status of the 61 other permits France has granted for oil and gas exploration.  While the majority of these licenses relate to the operation of conventional hydrocarbons, twelve are for non-conventional hydrocarbons and potentially gas from coal or oil shale, particularly in the Paris Basin.


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