Bulgarian Energy Minister Attributes Shale Gas Worries to Lack of Information

Energy | January 16, 2012, Monday // 18:17|  views

Energy Minister Traicho Traikov has explained public attitudes against shale gas with the scant information on the issue. Photo by BGNES

Energy Minister Traicho Traikov has attributed public anxiety about shale gas development to the serious scarcity of information on the topic.

On Monday Traikov told journalists that 79% of the people made up their minds on the issue from TV reports, adding that "you all know what they see there".

The Energy Minister argued that 64% of the respondents of a recent poll had said that they would approve of shale gas production in Bulgaria as long as it could be proved that it entailed minimal environmental risks and substantial economic benefits.

He added, however, that the safety and the profitability of the activity could not be proved without a draft project and a contract with US Chevron, the company that won the tender for shale gas exploration activities in northeastern Bulgaria.

Traikov noted that at the current stage Bulgaria could only theoretically ask the US firm to present its plans for an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

He further vowed that the government would abide by any decision adopted by the Parliament.

His comments came after thousands of Bulgarians in eleven cities rallied against shale gas activities in the country.

Traikov based his remarks on a poll conducted by the ESTAT agency in the period January 06-12 among 1000 respondents aged 18+.

The survey published by the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism on Monday showed that that 64.8 of of Bulgarians approve of shale gas exploration if the government can guarantee that it is environmentally safe.

Some 9.6% say that shale gas exploration must be conducted by all means, while 18.3% are against the activity even in the case of a positive environmental impact assessment.

7.4% cannot make up their mind on the issue.

As regards shale gas production, 57.9% of the polled approve of the activity if it is environmentally safe.

Another 10.8% say the economic benefits of the process are the decisive factor, while 22.2% oppose shale gas production even if it is proved that it does not entail environmental risks.

Bulgarians' attitudes on shale gas development are largely based on the anticipated concrete profits, according to the ESTAT poll.

The most important impact of the process is expected to be the creation of well-paid jobs (33%), the reduction of gas prices through domestic output (23%) and the decreased dependence on foreign suppliers of gas (21%).

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Tags: protests, shale gas exploration, environmental impact assessment, Chevron, shale gas, Traicho Traikov, Energy minister, Economy Minister


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