Gaz de Schiste – Fracking Fight Far from Over

The fight against fracking in France is far from over warns FNE- France Nature Environnement which fears a white wash lies ahead driven by intense lobbying from powerful oil industry interests

This photo is of a fracking site in the US. Photo credit: Non aux gaz de schiste

French activists fear this photo shows what the wine-producing Lot Valley could look like unless shale gas licenses are cancelled and the whole idea of shale gas operations abandoned.

(Read more online French News here)

Grass roots groups across France are preparing to protest outside the Assemblé Nationale in Paris on May 10 when the house is to debate amending legislation meant to clarify the issue of exploration permits for oil companies.

In a later development groups opposing fracking have started an email-your-MP, or this case Député campaign, as Richard Paul-Jones of the Schiste Happens website explains:
“Christian Jacob’s bill to repeal the permits allowing exploration and exploitation of shale gas in France will be debated by the National Assembly this Tuesday and Wednesday (10th and 11th May).
The original bill has been substantially reduced and now gives the permit holders two months to explain which technique they intend to use. This means that if the companies come up with any method other than hydraulic fracturing, they will retain their licenses without further inquiry.
This revised draft of the bill does not do what we were led to believe and opens the door for petroleum companies to retain the permits and begin drilling.” Visit his blog and send an email in French to French députés pointing out that this is just unacceptable.

According to the CDURABLE website the interim report of the government taskforce on shale gas is looking like a possible “victory for industry lobbyists”. The report was released just days after Prime Minister François Fillon pledged his support for legislative proposals to cancel the shale gas exploration permits.

The interim report submitted April 21 to Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet and Industry Minister Eric Besson suggests that “technically and economically, the likelihood is that authorising access to these deposits will enable France over a specified time horizon, significantly to reduce its oil imports and cut its trade balance deficit.” The interim report cautions that drilling experiments must be conducted under supervision “so as to control the fracking process and ensure there is no pollution.” Additionally it calls for “a National Scientific Committee, composed of industrial experts and academics, including experts from abroad, to be established to guarantee the quality and transparency of the studies proposed on the issue” .

France Nature Environnement makes clear it views the report as a whitewash: “if after submitting evidence to the inter ministerial task-force, we anticipated a more favourable report on the exploitation of shale gas we did not at all expect such a caricature of a report, one which almost without any qualification, appears interested in just one outcome — to make shale gas drilling acceptable to the French.”

The interim task-force report is available in pdf here

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Here is a flavour of the interim report:
“In terms of the current state of our knowledge, the bedrock oil and gas resources of our country remain largely unknown because no research to estimate these has been carried out. If these resources are not definitively proven, comparison with similar geological formations in North America suggest that our country is among the most promising sources of such hydrocarbons in Europe with technically exploitable estimated reserves in the Paris basin of 100 million m3 and a further estimated 500 billion m3 of gas resources in the south of the country (…) The major French agencies, most businesses and the most thoroughgoing tests done abroad (U.S. EPA, BAPE Quebec) recognise that there is still room for progress to be made and for innovative approaches both in terms of optimising drilling to reach the maximum resources available and in making these drill holes compatible with the needs of environmental protection(…) The task-force believes that under the strict terms of technical domination of risk and so as to limit the impact of the proposed industrial activity, four conditions must be met:

  • a good knowledge of the local geology and hydro-geology must be acquired;
  • the best available technology must be used;
  • oil prospecting should be strictly supervised from a technical and legal standpoint;
  • the state mining authority should exert rigorous control.

(…)  The task-force recommends that, pending the outcome of the (proposed) research programme, hydraulic fracturing, the technique that is most heavily contested should not be used except for the scientific programme outlined above.”

Meanwhile according to an earlier AFP report: Schuepbach Energy LLC, the US company which holds two shale gas exploration permits in France has filed an appeal against a prohibition order issued by the mayor of Villeneuve-de-Berg ( in the Ardèche). The grounds of the appeal, filed April 4, refer to an “abuse of power” and were lodged with the Lyon Administrative Court. Schuepbach holds two licenses: one for Villeneuve-de-Berg and another for Nant (Aveyron), both extending across the jurisdiction of several municipalities. Ten exclusion orders have been made by the mayors of areas covered by these two licenses, he said.

The pictures below reflect the level of concern shown by the voters of Villeneuve-de-Berg during a recent demonstration against fracking.
Photo credits here

Photo: Non aux Gaz de Schiste

Locals fear their wine will in future be tainted by shale gas.

This Daily Motion page hosts a playlist of anti-Gaz de Schiste video clips

Gaz de schiste – L’eau du robinet prend feu!!!! par Wakeup-

The Tour de France with the Anti-Shale Gas Banner

Download the Anti-Schiste Tour de France itinerary and follow the touring banner.
According to Non aux Gaz de Schiste the Tour de France banner is a symbolic gesture, and the banner, signed by protesters where ever it stops, will be carried up the summit of Mont Blanc in the Alps before the last stage of the tour ending at the National Assembly on May 10 as deputies debate a proposed repeal of shale gas exploration permits.

More campaigning links:

Non aux Gaz de Schiste

Pas de Gaz de Schistes

Gaz Schiste

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7 Responses to Gaz de Schiste – Fracking Fight Far from Over

  1. Pingback: Gaz de Schiste – The Fracking Watch Updates « French News Online Newsroom

  2. barbara phillips May 10, 2011 at 3:40 am

    I live in the Lot part-time, and hydrofracking was one of the things I was escaping from (in the US)! Now, I guess I’ve got to renew my marching shoes to fight against this dangerous fracking–it has ruined the water supply of many towns in the US!
    Barbara Phillips

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