Bulgarian Govt Will Reverse Shale Gas Ban Within Months – Expert

Energy | January 19, 2012, Thursday // 16:02|  views

January 14 saw the biggest rallies against shale gas in Bulgaria. Photo by BGNES

Ilian Vassilev, energy expert and former Ambassador of Bulgaria to Russia, has criticized the government for the newly imposed all-out ban on hydraulic fracturing, saying that it betrayed weakness.

In a Thursday interview for 24 Hours daily, he assured that the government would backpedal on its decision within months and would allow the technology within an appropriately strict regulatory regime.

Vassilev defined Wednesday's indefinite ban on shale gas exploration and production through hydraulic fracturing as a "Middle Ages' knowledge ban", explaining that Bulgaria was the first to outlaw the exploration of its potential.

He defined the events in Bulgaria as part of a wider Russian-inspired PR campaign against the deployment of the US shale gas production technology in Europe.

"It is not without reason that socialist presidential candidate Ivaylo Kalfin turned the battle against shale gas into a campaign slogan. He has European ambitions and is not only representing his interests," Vassilev argued.

"Naturally, the main goal of this paneuropean campaign is Germany. If Gazprom's lobby succeeds to ban shale gas exploration, and, more importantly, shale gas production, this will become the norm in Europe and German companies will have to increase import from Gazprom to compensate for the ban on nuclear power," the expert commented.

On January 17, the Bulgarian government revoked a shale gas exploration permit granted to US oil giant Chevron for deposits in Northeastern Bulgaria, citing the insufficient proof of the environmental safety of hydraulic fracturing.

On January 18, the Cabinet imposed an indefinite ban on hydraulic fracturing, a method which involves injecting a mix of water, sand and chemicals at very high pressure deep underground to crack rock and release oil and gas.

On January 14, thousands of protesters gathered in 11 Bulgarian cities to demand a moratorium and a subsequent statutory ban on shale gas drilling in the country.

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Tags: shale gas, shale gas exploration, hydraulic fracturing, hydraulic fracking, Gazprom, nuclear energy, Germany, protests


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