Bulgarian Professor Snubs FT over Fracking

Energy | August 7, 2012, Tuesday // 12:50|  views

At the beginning of January thousands of young Bulgarians protested against plans to explore the huge shale gas reserves in north-east Bulgaria. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

A Bulgarian professor from the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy in the capital Sofia has criticized a Financial Times article on fracking prospects in the country.

"Bulgaria is right to be wary of fracking," writes professor Donka Angelova in a letter to Financial Times.

She refers to an article by Guy Chazan, which mentions some reasons for the resistance to "fracking" in Eastern Europe ("Oilmen hope to carry shale revolution across the pond", Inside Business, August 2), and says that as a Bulgarian she would like to add others.

"First, two small earthquakes occurred in Lancashire last year after fracking by the gas and oil company Cuadrilla; a report commissioned by Cuadrilla found it "highly probable" that the fracking was the cause. Lancashire is not normally prone to earthquakes, but Bulgaria is and has this year already experienced quakes from 3.5 to 5.9 on the Richter scale and hundreds of after-tremors. Fracking could be expected to trigger larger quakes.

Second, Bulgaria is a small country and the area in which Chevron seeks fracking rights covers about a quarter of its fertile land. This area includes the Dobruja, the best area in the country for growing wheat. The global shortage of grain is now more threatening than any shortage of gas or oil."

Since the beginning of the year Bulgarian environmentalists have staged numerous protests against potential shale gas research and exploration in the country.

The environmentalists have decided to stage the new protest after Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov announced the formation of a consultative committee on shale gas without including representatives of their civic initiative or scientists.

In January, following a wave of environmental protests, the Bulgarian government revoked a shale gas exploration permit granted to US energy giant Chevron for deposits in Northeastern Bulgaria, citing the insufficient proof of the environmental safety of hydraulic fracturing. The decision followed a wave of protests organized by environmentalists and citizens across the country.

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.

Opponents however believe the current legislation leaves the door wide open for robbing Bulgaria of its natural resources.

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Tags: shale gas, hydraulic fracturing, fracking, protest, Chevron


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