The Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta has said that making headway on negotiations with Chevron over shale gas will be a priority of the new government. The US oil and gas company is keen to start exploration for shale gas in Romania and the PM’s latest comments, made on Realitatea TV, sounded favorable to the idea. The extraction of shale gas by induced hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is causing controversy around the world with concerns that the technique can cause seismic activity and pollute water supplies, among other problems.
The PM warned that Romania might get left behind and struggle to compete if shale gas is not exploited. He also pushed the energy independence issue, claiming that shale gas could potentially reduce the country’s reliance on Russian energy giant Gazprom. He said natural gas from Gazprom can cost up USD 450 per 1000 cubic meters, while figures from Poland suggest shale gas could cost as little as USD 80 per 1000 m3. The low prices in Poland, where shale gas is already exploited, could give Polish companies the competitive edge over Romanian firms, according to the PM. He also highlighted the time it would take for Romania to start extracting shale gas, saying that if work started right now, it would be five years before any gas was extracted.
When the Social Liberal Union (USL) came to power via a vote of no confidence earlier in the year, among the government’s first announcements was a decision to put shale gas exploration on hold until EU studies had been completed. Since that time, the EU has published research and, as the PM said when speaking on Romanian TV, the UK government has just opted to allow exploration for shale gas to continue. Exploratory drilling was halted in the UK after small earthquakes occurred around the drill sites and local residents complained.
The European Commission announced public consultation on unconventional fossil fuels (which includes shale gas) today (December 20 ). The EC is inviting members of the public and stakeholders to contribute to the dialogue on shale gas and its EU future. Consultations are open until March next year and contributions to the debate can be made here.
More EU info on shale gas.
Liam Lever, firstname.lastname@example.org