Bulgarian Socialists Table Draft Bill Banning Shale Gas DrillingEnergy | November 24, 2011, Thursday // 14:54| views
Over 200 citizens of the Black Sea city of Varna staged a protest against shale gas exploration and production in the country on November 20. Photo by BGNES
The Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) has has tabled in Parliament a draft bill envisaging a ban on shale gas exploration and production in the country.
If the draft piece of legislation is passed, it should revoke the government's decision to award a large-scale concession for shale gas activities.
The left-wing party said that it had tapped France's experience with imposing a ban on hydraulic fracturing to prepare the draft bill.
The provisions of the newly proposed piece of legislation envisage penalties of up to BGN 100 000 for legal persons and up to BGN 10 000 for natrural persons for violations of the ban.
Under the draft bill, the government is required to table annual reports on the exploration and production of hydrocarbon liquids and gases, the methods used in the process and their impact on the environment by March 30.
Companies that have alerady conducted shale gas exploration and production activities with or without a permit must submit detailed reports with the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism within one month of the law's entry into force.
BSP's step comes in response to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's November 18 invitation to parliamentary oppennets of shale gas to table a petition for a ban and to carry the responsibility for their decision.
On Wednesday, the marginal conservative party Order, Law and Justice (RZS) submitted to Parliament a draft decision proposing a ban on shale gas drilling.
Bulgarian nationalist Ataka party suggested a moratorium on the issue one month ago.
On Thursday, former Constitutional judge and socialist MP Lyuben Kornezov explained that the government's June 15th decision for awarding a large-scale concession for shale gas exploration to US energy giant Chevron could only be cancelled through a law.
The issue of shale gas drilling in Bulgaria escalated in the past few weeks, with environmentalists staging several protrests and voicing concenrs that two shale gas wells were being prepared for a launch.
Energy Minister Traicho Traikov refuted the claims, saying that the platform in the northeastern village of Rogozina was used for conventional drilling.
The protesters also drew attention to the fact that Environment Minister Nona Karadzhova, who recently claimed that all anti-shale gas rallies had been attended "the very same 5 perople" pretending to represent civil society in Bulgaria, had failed to ensure the mandatory Natura 2000 impact assessment for certain gas wells.
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