EC Advises Members to Be Cautious with Shale Gas - Bulgarian Ministry

Energy | December 20, 2011, Tuesday // 20:40|  views

One of the many anti-shale gas rallies held in Bulgarian capital Sofia during the fall. December, 10. Photo by BGNES

The European Commission has allowed Bulgaria to require a favorable environmental impact assessment before exploring for shale gas, announced the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment Tuesday.

Following public pressure motivated by concerns about the environmental safety of the technique, the Ministry had officially sent a letter to the Commission with that question.

"The EC has given us a positive answer to the question whether the EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment might be applied broadly given the public sensitivity of the matter," said the Bulgarian Eco-Ministry.

According to Bulgarian legislation transposing the Directive, only procedures for production of oil and gas require an environmental impact assessment, and not those for exploration.

In its answer, the Commission has said the Directive can be also applied to exploration, explicitly specifying that it has only explained existing legislation, and not created new rules.

The letter, written by the director of DG Environment, has been also sent to all other EU member states.

"Given pressing nature of the issue of shale gas exploration and production in Europe, the European Commission has said a decision has been taken to create a technical working group on shale gas to serve as a platform for information exchange among member-states," says the Bulgarian Environment Ministry.

Controversy in Bulgarian public opinion on the novel technique of shale gas raged after over the summer the Bulgarian government granted a concession to US energy giant Chevron to explore for shale gas in the north-east.

Environmentalists and regular citizens have been worried about what they claim is the likely impact on ground water from undisclosed chemicals used in the process known as hydraulic fracturing.

Shale gas has raised controversies in the US, where within the last decate it created a revolution in natural gas production, and has been recently banned from use in France.

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Tags: Ministry of Environment, shale gas, environmentalists, water, European Commission, Chevron, natural gas, environmental impact assessment, US, France


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