Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Things are moving again - sign the NEW petition

After a lapse of some weeks, this is the third post on this blog in two days so PLEASE READ the two posts below this one as well.

There is a new petition here: 

The petition is calling for a rejection of the Permis Beaumont de Lomagne in the Lot, Dordogne and T&G, as well as the rescinding of all existing permits and a general tightening up of the law passed in July which only banned commercial hydro-fracking. It still allowed companies to go ahead and get the gas out if they could do so without hydro fracking. It also allowed for experimental fracking for research purposes. A cynic may interpret that as using fracking to find a new way of fracking which is not called fracking...

But this misses a critical issue which is that while the prospect of 'easy' energy is dangled in front of oil companies and governments, research and development into alternative and renewable sources will be greatly reduced. Also the drive to reduce the use of all energy derived from carbon based fuels will also slow down. If you are in any doubt about this, witness Canada's withdrawal from the Kyoto agreement yesterday on the grounds that they could not reduce their consumption and withdrawal would mean they could not be fined for missing their target - brilliant! Oh yes, and they have massive reserves of shale gas.

Petitions in France work. They were in no small part responsible for July's law but they need to get to 100,000 (or so) before they have any effect. So far there are fewer than 600 signatures on this new petition. Let's see if we can get that into the thousands before the end of the week.

Sign the petition now:
After you sign the petition you will get an email from asking you to confirm that you are the person you say you are. Just click the COMFIRMER link in the email.

 Pass it on.


The Schiste Happens Team

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Oops! We also noticed that..............

We also noticed that in a dispatch dated 8th December, Reuters reported that the American Environmental Protection Agency concluded that 'hydraulic fracking most likely polluted aquafers in Wyoming. Chemicals found in aquafers include benzene'. 'Republicans in Congress have been urging the Obama administration to back off federal regulation of fracking because the industry is creating jobs and securing the country's energy future.'

Well, that couldn' happen here - could it!!!

Not 'all over' - by any means!

Since we last blogged on 4th October, we note the following................

a. Total are to challenge the three permits for the Cévennes region abrogated by President Sarkozy citing the loi Jacob recently. Wonder what they know that we do not?!!

b. Shares in 3 Legs Resources AKA Lane Energy have plummeted from circa 150p at flotation to circa 57p this week. You will know that they have a permit application 'en cours' for the 5,750 km sq surrounding Cahors and that their current main area of activity is Poland.

c. Last Friday the new Prefét of the Lot gave a 'presentation' in favour of the projected prison at Sauzet. Empathetic was not a word we would use to describe the overall approach and given that it is he who would otherwise sign permits for this region, we are not over encouraged. At least one local senator who had previously declared himself 'contre' G de S presented in a similar manner.

d. An International Day of Protest is planned for 'mid-january' and we will announce the date if/when advised by French/Canadian organisers.

e. Some variance with earlier statements on the part of the Party Socialiste in relation to policy in matters G de S and an early U turn in relation to all things nuclear from would be President Hollande. No surprises there.

f. In the UK, in spite of causal links being proven between fracking near Blackpool and the earlier mini-earthquakes ( Tim Yeo called them 'virtually non-existent' in our correspondence citing 5 pages of seismic minutae and at the same time virtually dismissing reports of around 1,000 instances in Arkansas ) operations to frack up to 800 wells utilizing - you've guessed it..........good old Hydraulic Fracking and this with large chunks of Chinese backing. No Environmental Assessment and little local consultation we hear.  Mostly ' up North' at this stage but coming to The Mendips, Weald and South Glamorgan quite soon now.

g. New and effective site at - well worth a look ( Google it if the link does not work )  if only to read accounts of some of the despicable under cover activities engaged in by a well known firm of lobbyists based in Mayfair.

We continue to keep eyes and ears open and daily seek to offset statements like ' That's all sorted now isn't it?' and 'It'll never happen here'. The simple fact is that in the current and indeed ongoing financial climate France may well not be able to ignore the fact that it is sitting on top of one of the biggest potential shale gas deposits on the European mainland.

Watch this space.

Merry Christmas to all our readers.

[Merry Schistmas surely? Ed.]

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Looks Promising – but who can you trust?

4 OCTOBER  2011

ECOLOGY minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet has cancelled three permits to drill for shale gas across large swathes of the south of France, including one by French oil giant Total.

The permits, granted by former ecology minister Jean-Louis Borloo in spring 2010, were cancelled after the companies involved –Total and US-based Schuepbach Energy – did not rule out using now-banned hydraulic fracturing to extract any gas found.

The permits were for vast regions known as Nant (Aveyron, Lozère and Hérault), Villeneuve-de-Berg in the Ardèche – which were held by Schuepbach – and Total’s Montélimar which stretches along the Rhône from the Drôme to the Gard and Montpellier.

Ms Kosciusko-Morizet’s decision comes as President Sarkozy visits the Gard today to celebrate Unesco’s classification of the Causses et Cévennes in its world heritage list.

 The thinking here at Schiste Towers is that this is as much about Sharkey’s positioning before next year’s presidential election as it is about protecting the environment. We must remember who was President and which party was in power when the permits were granted in the first place - Sarko and his centre-right UMP. He is slipping in the ratings. The socialist party (PS) recently won a majority in the Senate and are getting their act together after their front runner Dominique Strauss-Kahn shot himself in the foot and had to withdraw from the race. Sarko is a worried bunny.
The Jacobi law was intended to ban the expolitation of shale gas completely but was watered down and now only bans fracking. It is being challenged by the PS tomorrow (6 Oct) with a view to strengthening it. There is no doubt that yesterday's world heritage gimmick was to some extent designed to take the reduce the chances of the this challenge succeeding. The UMP can say the present law is doing the job and does not need strengthening. By leaving it in place it leave the door open for an uncertain future.

So while we can afford a brief moment of appreciation for a job well done (‘Well done all of you’) we can not relax as there is still a lot of money to be made and these gas companies will stop at nothing to get it. And no one knows what a future government will do. 

Watch this space…

Monday, 26 September 2011

In Error - Our Apologies

We have been advised today, following rigorous re-examination of sources by our researchers, that the information contained in our previous blog regarding Languedoc Roussillon was essentially mischievously based. Clearly, someone (!) is ahead of the game. Our apologies for any excitement caused.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Law - what law? Exploration progresses...............

The Confédération Paysanne in Languedoc-Roussillon in their press release dated 22nd September 2011 refer to letters which they claim members have received from their Prefect instructing them to give free access to Gaz de Schiste companies ( in this case Total ) to their parcels of land immediately following the moisson/harvest. Naturally, they are collectively concerned and in the communique we have received would appear to be advocating 'non-violent resistance'.

Hopefully producers and others in this region will now begin to take seriously earlier warnings about the true intentions of government in this matter. The much diluted law banning Hydraulic Fracking was merely a device to calm the masses. If reports are valid we would now appear to be beginning to see the true nature of governmental intentions. Remember, under current legislation (loi minier) derricks may be placed as close as 50m to your property boundaries.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Newsletter 21 September 2011

“Gaz de Schiste production has not been banned”
“The gas companies are re-applying for permits”
“ Gas companies may not be telling the truth
“Environmental damage is still a real threat”
Thanks from
The Schiste Happens Team

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

UK Set to re-commence fracking operations

This excellent piece by George Monbiot sets out the facts very well and ought finally to bring reality to bear in the UK. Few are yet aware of the threat to the UK environment including The Weald, S.Glamorgan, Mendips and not least the beautiful wild moorland inland from Blackpool.

You may wish to leave a comment!

Here in France a variety of sources are beginning to stir ( not least O & G industry propagadists ) once more after the long summer break and in the lead up to 6th October when the PS and other parties table amendments to the loi Jacob which bans hydraulic fracking. Watch this space.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Gaz de Schiste - Next stop 6th October ( Assemblée Nationale)

You may well have thought that this was all over and that with the passing of the loi Jacob banning hydraulic fracturation in June there was little left to worry about. Wrong. In fact there is no proper definition of what 'hydraulic fracturing' actually is and in any event 'fracturation pneumatique' which deploys compressed air is a distinct possibility and this or any one of the other re-named processes that the O&G industry is likely to come up within in the 2 month 'proving' period could in theory be adopted. If alternative processes are allowed to proceed in the autumn the negative effects of 'foraging' will be much the same. Derricks ( 30m -50m high ) as close as 50metres to one's property, massive logistical considerations including literally hundreds of truck movements just to remove earth, personnel movements at all hours, landscape clearance/desecration. Messrs Total have 'not yet decided what to do' and Toreador claim that HF was not specified in their permis in any case.  It is important to realise also that the existing permits have not yet been rescinded.

Opposition parties ( PS, Greens et al ) and organisations like FNE ( France Nature Environment ) consider the new law to be 'untillegible and unworkable' and on 6th October will jointly propose the banning 'pure and simple' of all exploration and exploitation for Gaz de Schiste in France. They are also calling for modifications to the French mining laws ( loi minier ) which are vastly out of date. This law concerns access to one's property amongst other things and France is currently under pressure from the European Parliament to make significant changes.

The government moved in June to calm massive public unrest across the country and across political allegiances by proposing the loi Jacob and then ( for whatever reason ) drastically diluted its terms at the last minute. They may well feel that they have succeeded. Wrong. France is the first country to react in this way to this destructive and demonstrably short term energy 'quick fix'. However, in the run-up to the presidential elections it is important that we do not allow the matter to rest.

Friday, 1 July 2011

France ( 01.07.11) All over bar the shouting???

So is that it? This morning, after three months of arguments, recriminations and sundry amendments, the headlines in every French newspaper are proclaiming that France is the first country in the world to ban "fracking", following last nights vote in the Senate. In reality, that much was already a foregone conclusion; as always however, the devil is in the details.......

The wording approved by the Senate is the same as the one from the Joint Committee (see previous posts for a full translation and comments), so no change there. There were a few questions yesterday about whether fracking for scientific purposes would still be allowed, which led Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the Environment Minister, to confirm that that particular option had already been shut down by the Joint Committee.

Companies that already hold shale gas exploration licences* now have two months to either state that they plan to continue their operations using an "alternative process", or see their licences rescinded. The obvious danger, of course, is that they somehow come up with an "alternative process" (whatever that might be) in the next eight the shouting may not quite be over yet......

* As a reminder, although a number of shale gas exploration licences have been requested, three have actually been awarded so far, in the areas of Nant (Aveyron), Montelimar (Gard) and Villeneuve-de-Berg (Ardèche). Bear in Mind, however, the recent listing of the Causses-Cévenenes region as a UNESCO Heritage Site would now make prospecting for shale gas in most of the Nant licence area virtually impossible.

Watch this space.......

Please note, this article first appeared on the blog pages of our associate site:

Comment (Schistehappens)...........

It may just be of course, that the two month 'proving' period is entirely genuine and has been established to show beyond doubt that the fracking fraternity had every chance to come up with alternatives. By this means, government would avoid paying hefty sums in compensation to existing licence holders.

As a footnote, it may be worth noting that the PS (Party Socialiste) is far from happy with the new law and we understand that they are to propose new legislation in the next session of parliament. This issue is far from settled.


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Gaz de Schiste - Heavily amended law passed - 21/06/11

The French National Assembly have now passed the much amended/diluted version of Christian Jacob's proposal. The bill as presented to the assembly will be examined by the French Senate on June 30th. Essentially,
the requirement is to ban 'hydraulic fracturing' but the government would appear not to have accurately defined what this is. Opposition deputies (MPs))  have now lodged an appeal with the French Constitutional Council claiming exactly this.

For a detailed explanation of current events please go to our associate site :

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Joint Committee rejects fracking "for scientific purposes"

Last night, the dedicated gaz de schiste Joint Committee ( seven deputies and seven senators ) reached an agreement on the UMP proposal on shale gas exploration. As we already know, the proposal bans hydraulic fracturing and gives current licence holders two months to state whether they intend to use the technique or resort to other methods. If the licence holders do not reply, or if they do not come up with another solution, then their licences will be revoked.

In addition, the Commission rejected the amendment passed in the Senate last week that would have allowed companies to use hydraulic fracturing for "scientific purposes". Instead, the Commission decreed that the Government courld draw up a report to "define experimentation conditions on which the Senate could then issue an opinion".

The Commission's conclusions will be debated in the Assemblée Nationale on June 21st and by the Senate ( again ) on June 30th, before final adoption. Watch this space for further news!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

3 Legs - cagey about France - Official!

Handily for 3 Legs Resources, the AIM (Alternative Investment Market ) Pathfinder document setting out details of their offer to investors appears to have gone to print on the same evening that the French Senate were debating final ratification of the gaz de schiste bill. Why they could not have waited just one day for the final outcome beats me............But then again, why wait for the confirmation of bad news?!

As it is, the Pathfinder mostly confirms what we know already about the Cahors application. It informs us that 3 Legs originally applied for the licence in December 2009 and that the application was notified to the public by the French authorities in August 2010 ( I don't seem to remember this being the case, but anyway....). The notification triggered a 90-day period during which competing applications were allowed to be submitted, but none were, so 3 Legs' application is theoretically in process.

As we know, the current bill still needs to be ratified by the National Assembly, however, what the Pathfinder document states clearly is as follows. 'If the bill receives final approval and passes into law, it is likely that the Group's two pending concession applications in France will either not be granted or, if granted, will be subject to restrictions ( including a prohibition on hydraulic fracture stimulation ) which will make shale gas exploration and production currently unviable due to a lack of presently-existing alternative technologies'.

In other words, if you can't can't extract shale gas. So it's up to us now to make sure that the Government doesn't try to allow fracking!

Monday, 13 June 2011


There is some reluctance to rescind the gas exploration permits which have been granted on the grounds that the government will have to pay out huge sums in compensation to the gas exploration companies.

This does not hold true for the 'Permis de Cahors' (5,700 sq km - 3Legs Oil & Gas) or the 'Permis de Beaumont de Lomagne (10,400 sq km - Ste BNK Petroleum) - where permission for exploration has not yet been given.

And anyway, whatever compensation may eventually be paid, it is unliely to be anywhere near the cost of repairing the damage done in this gas-rush greed-fest, so is probably something of a bargain - and the gas companies would be unwise to hold their breath waiting for the cheque.

There will be a demonstration in Sarlat on Saturday and you are urged to go along and show your support. The demonstration demands that the Government DO NOT grant these permissions. Meet at 11am in front of the Sous Prefecture (no address available so Goggle it).

Please be there - we can still make a difference.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

It ain't over yet - by any means ( Senate debate/vote (8th/9th June )

The recently approved but much diluted law of Christian Jacob banning 'hydraulic fracturing' was finally debated in the Senate on the 8th June. It was a close run thing ( 167 UMPs 'for' and 152 Socialistes/others 'against' ) after an extended and heated debate.

The opposition senators fought hard to establish the true level of risk involved in the process of shale gas extraction ( call it what you will ) but in the end were defeated by dint of a government majority. They collectively accused the government of treating the issue 'desinvolture' ie in a casual or off hand manner.

Michel Houel, spokesperson for the UMP, dismissed out of hand the devastation depicted in the film 'Gaslands' and attributed all problems to the poor installation of pipework. Needless to say,  this could never happen here!

M.Houel also said that in his opinion the recent earthquakes near Blackpool were 'very slight' and are likely to have occurred naturally. Incredible really, when one considers that most of us have heightened awareness of earthquakes following the Japanese nuclear disaster.

This means first of all that the two month 'proving' period where we might well expect the O&G companies to come up with an alternative name for hydraulic fracking and then proceed as before remains in place. By our reckoning this means some time in or at the end of August.

Finally, we have today heard that a cross-party commission ( yes, you heard right - another one ) is to be set up with a view to arriving at a concensus between the Assembly General and the Senate. Membership will be 7 députes and 7 senators and they will be charged with producing proposals to be placed in front of parliament with a view to arriving at a 'final' position.

Clearly government has been wrong-footed and feels the need to at least be seen to be taking the whole thing seriously. We wish we could trust the situation.

Friday, 10 June 2011

3Legs Jackpot (again) for the Jeffcocks

3 Legs, the company that is applying for the Cahors and Valence permits in France, will be listing on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London next week.

As we understand it…a loss-making company that was valued at £10.2 million in 2007 is apparently now worth £161 million (according to its brokers) on the basis of drilling two-and-a-half test wells in Poland, partly funded by a third-party. It’s a little hard to get one’s head around, particularly when the shale gas industry is coming under increasing scrutiny in Europe (drilling in Blackpool is currently suspended and the French Government appears to have banned hydraulic fracturing for the time being). What’s altogether easier to understand is that the main beneficiaries of this exercise will be the Jeffcock family, who are likely to pick up a handy £4 million in the offering, or £10 million if the over-allotment is exercised.

AIM investors may have short memories, but some of them may remember that the Jeffcocks were also behind Cadogan Petroleum (temporarily suspended from trading shortly after listing in 2008), which has now lost over 80% of its listing value, and Vane Minerals (75% loss of value to date). Investors with even longer memories may also remember Authoriszor, the gold mining venture that became an Internet company, in which Mr Jeffcock and Mr Williams (another 3Legs shareholder who is selling shares in the float) were involved… It will be interesting to see how the listing (Pathfinder) document  handles all this.

Caveat emptor…, or should that be watch out for a “load of hot air” as their Chairman, Tim Eggar, might say?

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Blackpool Earthquakes - the analysis.

Our colleague, Belinda Berry, who manages, researches and writes the Say No to Shale Gas blog has contacted Brian Baptie at the British Geological Survey in relation to the Blackpool earthquakes.

He has found some truly remarkable coincidences in terms of time and proximity to the the drilling activity undertaken by Messrs Cuadrilla. We understand that the University of Keele has also produced relevant data.

Have a look at her piece entitled 'Shaken but not stirred - a Cuadrilla cocktail' on the site.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Only FOUR days to act - Do it now!

YOU only have FOUR (from Saturday) days to tell your Senator that you want the oringial bill banning fracking for shale gas to pass into law. Not the bill as amended in the national assembly on 25 May.

The Senate session to debate the bill dissolved into a pool of apathy as Senators left during the debate for the holiday weekend. By the time it came to vote it was decided that there were not enough Senators to give the vote the authority it needed. The debate has been re-scheduled for June 8th.

YOUR Senator  needs to know that this is an important issue and that the vast majority of the electorate want them to pass the bill without the amendments.

You can email a letter to them directly. The text of the letter in French is below.  This is a short summary in English:

"The letter describes the initial bill calling for the ban on the mining of gas and oil by hydraulic fracturing and the withdrawal of all licences.

On 25 May the bill was amended on the recommendation of the Economic Commission to allow for forms of hydraulic fracturing for ‘experimental purposes’ and allows companies to keep their original licences if they come up with an alternative form of drilling. There is no plan to oversee these ‘new methods’ so a change in name would be sufficient.

The letter goes on to list all the problems that would ensue: water, soil, health etc. and demands that the original bill stands. i.e. complete withdrawal of licences, banning of hydraulic fracturing and the end of uncontrolled experimental drilling."

Copy and paste the French text into an email and add your name. Put Gaz de Schiste in the subject line

Email it to your Senator and as many others as you want. They are only interested in the number of emails they receive – it does not matter that you do not live in their area.

Click here to find the email address of Senators for OTHER DEPARTMENTS.

Click on your department (The name will appear in the red panel to the right)

then click on the name of you senator. If they have an email address (some don’t) it will be in the left hand column. If your Senator does not have an email address send some emails to other Senators.


Madame (ou Monsieur) le Sénateur
Casier de la Poste
15, rue de Vaugirard
75291 – PARIS CEDEX 06

Madame (ou Monsieur)  le Sénateur,

La proposition de loi (Christian Jacob), visant à « interdire l'exploration et l'exploitation des mines d'hydrocarbures liquides ou gazeux par fracturation hydraulique » et à « abroger les permis exclusifs de recherches comportant des projets ayant recours à cette technique » et adoptée le 11 mai 2011 en "procédure accélérée" s’est trouve amendée  le 25 mai 2011 sur la proposition de la Commission de l’économie, du développement durable et de l’aménagement du territoire du Sénat.

Le Sénat, en permettant le recours à la fracturation hydraulique pour l'expérimentation, autorise ainsi une technique pourtant interdite, dans le seul but de permettre aux titulaires de permis de recherche de commencer leurs explorations.

Par ailleurs, (article 1er bis nouveau) les risques environnementaux sont connus - et même sous estimés - si l'on en croit la multiplication des accidents et les pollutions constatés.

L'article 2, quant à lui, permet aux titulaires de permis de recherche de détourner la terminologie de "fracturation hydraulique" en trouvant une nouvelle dénomination pour une technique jusque là connue pour être la seule possible,  puisque brevetée.

La séance en lecture publique du texte n° 557  qui s'est déroulée de façon tout à fait anarchique et devant un hémicycle où la plupart des Sénateurs étaient absents à telle enseigne que cela a nécessité le recours au scrutin public pour parvenir... au rejet des trois amendements qui allaient dans le sens de nos revendications.

Par votre soutien aux amendements visant l'interdiction de la fracturation hydraulique même "dans le cadre de projets réalisés à des fins scientifiques" et l'abrogation des permis de recherches, vous permettriez :

- d'éviter que des permis octroyés dans l'opacité du Code Minier (depuis le 2.7.2007 - et qui plus est par le Ministre de l'Ecologie - et même bien avant)  ne permettent aux sociétés pétrolières d'exercer leur mainmise sur notre sous-sol ;

- d'empêcher que dans nos beaux paysages de France ne surgissent des plate- formes de forage de compagnies pétrolières ;

- d'empêcher l'asséchement de nos nappes phréatiques déjà insuffisantes pour la survie de la végétation, des cultures et de la consommation humaine (80% du territoire est en état de sécheresse)  et leur pollution irréversible ;

- d'éviter la pollution de notre sous-sol avec des substances chimiques et ce, pour des générations ; 

- De prendre en compte l'urgence climatique : qui dit gaz de schiste, dit méthane, gaz dont l'effet de serre est 25 fois plus puissant que le CO² sur une période d'un siècle, comme des études scientifiques l'ont déjà démontré.

En conséquence, je vous demande d’amender le texte n° 557 de la Commission de l’économie, du développement durable et de l’aménagement du territoire et d’apporter votre soutien aux amendements exigeant l’abrogation des permis accordés et en cours d’instruction, l’interdiction de la fracturation hydraulique à des fins scientifiques et expérimentales.

Veuillez agréer, Madame [ou Monsieur le Sénateur], à l'expression de mes sentiments distingués.

Nom, Prénom 


Thursday, 2 June 2011

UK Shale Gas drilling suspended after further earthquakes occur.

The BBC has reported further earthquakes in close proximity to the shale gas drilling operations currently being carried out by Messrs Cuadrilla ( Lichfield ). Links..........

" Drilling at the UK's first shale gas site is suspended after a magnitude 1.5 earthquake near Blackpool, the second since April".

Video available at

Both the British Geological Survey and the University of Keele have verified the disturbances and whilst are unable to prove a direct link to drilling operations point out the extremely close proximity and coincidental time frame." Cuadrilla Resources said that it had stopped hydraulic fracturing, or fracking - the process of pummelling rocks deep underground with high-pressure water, sand and chemicals - while it studied data from the quakes and consulted with experts. We expect that this analysis and subsequent consultation will take a number of weeks to conclude and we will decide on appropriate actions after that". Said Chief Executive Mark Miller.

We think it likely that they will find no causal connection and then continue on their merry way. Of course, we may be wrong.

Cuadrilla may be contacted at :   
or by letter: Cudrilla Resources Ltd., Cuadrilla House, Stowe Court, Stowe Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS13 6AQ (UK).

Friday, 27 May 2011

Shale gas gets support from UK MPs

Source - The Guardian Monday 23rd May 2011 - article by Environment Correspondent Fiona Harvey.

Shale gas drilling in the UK has been given the go-ahead by MPs in a new report looking at the impact it could have on water supplies, energy security and energy emissions.  They have rejected the idea of any kind of moratorium.
Snippets -
'The inquiry found no evidence (!) that the hydraulic fracturing process involved in shale gas extraction known as 'fracking' poses a direct risk to underground water aquifers provided the drilling well was constructed properly. They also concluded that a moratorium in the UK is not justified (!) or necessary at present'. So, what price public consultation?

'MPs urge the DECC (Dept. of Energy & Climate Change) to monitor drilling activity extremely closely in its early stages in order to assess its impact on air and water quality'.  And just how likely is this in a climate of extreme cost cutting?

'Onshore shale gas reserves in the UK could be quite considerable and will certainly help us increase our energy capacity - though not, unfortunately very dramatically'.  So, to hell with the risk

'The emergence of shale gas increases the urgency of bringing carbon capture and storage technology to the market and making it work for gas as well as coal'.  Still in the early stages of development, so in the meantime, let's get on with fracking up the countryside. See TV quote below.

'Greenhouse gas emissions from gas are lower than coal (highly debatable see: light-into-a-dark-closet/ ) but are still much higher than many low-carbon technologies - like nuclear, solar or wind power'.

TIM YEO MP (email: or via website

As Tim sees it:

'There are no unacceptable risks'.

'It is understandable that environmentalists have concerns about methane emissions from shale gas after YouTube videos from the US (methinks he means the award winning film Gaslands) apparently showed people setting fire to their tap water'.

'But if it has a downward effect on gas prices it could divert much needed investment away from lower carbon technologies like solar, wind, wave or tidal power'.  (Yes, Tim.)

'There has been a lot of hot air (!) recently about the dangers of shale gas drilling, but our inquiry found no evidence to support the main concern - that UK water supplies would be put at risk'.  Main concern for whom Tim?  What about the horrendous logistics (earth and water movement by road), 30-50m high derricks illuminated 24/7 and landscape desecration, not to mention concerns relating to all the chemicals deployed.

'But it is still unclear when, or indeed if, Carbon Capture Storage will become technologically and commercially viable'.  Indeed it is, so why proceed with yet another fossil fuel ahead of its development ?

'Onshore shale gas reserves in the UK could be quite considerable and will certainly help us to increase our energy security - though not, unfortunately, very dramatically'.  So the acknowledged risks (US, Canada, Germany, Australia have all experienced serious problems) are still worth taking then?

'The Government's regulatory agencies must of course be vigilant and monitor drilling closely to ensure that air and water quality is not affected'.  (Yes Tim, and at a time of swingeing cuts to public services/agencies we can surely rely upon that.)

If you are concerned for the remaining areas of outstanding natural beauty in the UK and are already horrified by the prospect of shale gas exploration as a result of what you have read on this site, at meetings here in France and in the media generally, then we urge you to contact Mr Yeo (and your own MP if you retain a vote in the UK) and let him know how you feel - without delay.  The current 'trick' is to push the whole concept 'up North', and by styling the location of current activities 'Blackpool' the industry is concealing the fact that it is the area of wild moorland known as the Trough of Bowland which is actually under threat.  The Weald and areas of S.Glamorgan are also believed to be threatened.  Where next?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Don't schiste on your own doorstep?

French oil company Total, and US gas meisters Exxon (Esso to Brits) are scurrying east to join the frack fest currently in the process of ruining great chunks of Poland.

Media representatives at Total said that neither last week's decision by French MPs to ban hydraulic fracturing, or popular opposition to the method among French people, had influenced the firm’s plans to invest in Poland.
Yeah! Likely. If the state of the market in your home country does not 'influence' your business planning then you are either stupid, inept or lying.

It is regrettable that this is the level of honesty that we can expect from the major players, but it is not unexpected.

So when they also say: "Total respects the law in each country where it is active, and is committed to safety and environmental protection". We should be more than a little worried.



Saturday, 14 May 2011

A Question of Trust

It is two days since the National Assembly voted to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for oil and gas. It is generally accepted that the Senate will support the bill on June 1st and that it will go into law. A massive public outcry forced the government to do a u-turn and stop the almighty oil and gas industry in its tracks. The air should be rent with the sounds of celebration. There should be great satisfaction among the protesters for a job well done.  But all we hear are angry outbursts and claims of betrayal and skulduggery from the individuals and organisations involved in the protest. Why is this? 

It seems there are three reasons. Firstly, the original bill would have rescinded the permits already granted to the gas companies. At the last minute this provision was removed, leaving the possibility of the gas companies retaining their permits and, we must presume, finding some way to exploit them.

Secondly, the bill only bans hydraulic fracturing of the shale. The reason for this being that parliament's principal concern was the use and contamination of large quantities of water. In effect they have prohibited the use of hydraulic fracturing fluid. But they have not defined hydraulic. The root of the word is the latin for water but is generally used to include any fluid. Fluids include all liquids and gases and the only alternatives to water based fracking appear to be foam and gas fracturing. Foam and gas are both fluids so they should also be banned, but this is not explicitly stated in the bill. This ban on a single method of breaking up the shale leaves  the way open for all sorts of new technologies to emerge which the gas companies will swear do not involve hydraulic fracturing.

Thirdly, many of the protesters are also taking a longer term view of energy use. This new source of hydrocarbon-based fuel will take the pressure off the drive to find alternatives to oil which is generally accepted to be on the decline, and coal which is just plain filthy. Until recently it was accepted that the main alternatives were nuclear and a range of renewable sources such as solar, wind, water and geothermal power. Shale gas will simply delay the development of these alternatives and pump more carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere. Nearly two hundred states signed the Kyoto agreement to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. The pathetic failure to achieve the targets has been disguised by massaging the figures - and it is this sort of disingenuous behaviour which should make us wary of the governments intentions for shale gas in France.

The bill has given the gas companies two months to describe how they will extract the gas. If it involves hydraulic fracturing their permits will be rescinded. If they do not say they will use hydraulic fracturing they will retain their permits. One thing is guaranteed, there will be no proposals which say they will use hydraulic fracturing. As the overwhelming opinion of industry insiders is that hydraulic fracturing is the only economically viable way of getting the gas out of the shale, this bill should be the equivalent of a complete ban on the exploitation of shale gas in France.

So now it is a question of trust. The French government may be prepared to review the gas companies proposals honestly and reject those that will involve hydraulic fracturing regardless of what they call it. But hardly anyone believes this is the case.

The government have failed to convince us that they will really ban fracturing. The wording of the bill suggests that they will allow it to proceed if the gas companies use the right words. If they want to avoid another public outcry in the run up to the 2012 Presidential election, they would be well advised to prove that they can be trusted - and soon.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

MPs Vote for Fracking Ban

MPs have voted to ban the shale gas mining process of hydraulic fracturing in France.

The proposition was passed by 287 votes to 186, with the Socialist Party and green MPs voting against it because it did not constitute an outright ban of shale gas mining in France.

The latest proposition bans the technique of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, which uses a high-pressure blast of water, sand and chemicals to create a shockwave to break open cracks deep in the earth and shift the gas into collection areas.

Fracking, currently the only technique used to collect shale gas, has come into the spotlight for causing damage to drinking water supplies.

Thousands of protesters have marched against shale gas exploration, voicing fears of the damage that, beyond the danger to the water table, the transport of materials and drilling could cause to local communities.

All firms who currently hold shale gas exploration permits in France will need to produce a report ensuring that their mining technique is not fracking.

If hydraulic fracturing is used, or no report is produced, the drilling permits will be rescinded. The list of companies and their techniques will be made public.

The proposition leaves the door open for drilling experiments used to hone other methods of obtaining shale gas, held under public supervision.

Senators will debate the proposal on June 1.

Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, has told interviewers that the original granting of shale gas exploration permits by her predessor Jean-Louis Borloo was "a mistake."


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Beware tricks, smoke and mirrors in UMP debate

As feared the French goverenment appears to be watering down its own bill and easing the way for gas companies to carry on business as normal as reported in Connexions. So nothing new there then... watch this space for more horribly predictable political shenannigans.

From Connexions:
"AN AMENDMENT to the bill to ban shale gas exploration in France has become a smoke screen to allow drilling, claim Socialist MPs and environmentalists.

Many Socialist Party members fear the proposition from the UMP’s Christian Jacob is little more than a trick to get tacit approval for drilling, while ecologists have denounced the text as it has been changed from the original which gained widespread support. "

Source Connexion:

Monday, 9 May 2011

Montcuq Banner pix 9 May 2011

A couple of pix from the Montcuq press photo opportunity marking the debate in the National Assembly starting tomorrow:

France: Environmentalists Fear Slippage

"Environmentalist are expressing concerns in advance of this week’s upcoming vote in the French National Assembly to repeal shale exploration licenses. Changes have occurred in the wording of the resolution to be voted upon. The original bill clearly stated that licenses already issued for unconventional gas and oil were to be repealed and called for the ban on further exploration and exploitation.

However, the revised version stipulates that licensees must, within two months after the publication of the law, detail the processes that they intend to employ in extracting the resources in a report to the administrative authority that originally issued the permit. The permits would be revoked if this report is not submitted or if it “refers to the use, or possible use of hydraulic fracturing of the rock,” after drilling.

For Yves Cochet, Member for the Green Party, the revision provides explorers with a loophole.
“Instead of saying they (i.e. explorers) use the technique of hydraulic fracturing, they will use another form but in substance, they will do the same, since there is no other way to do it”  said Cochet.

The France Nature Environnement coalition also expressed its “concern” fearing a shift away in parliamentary support. “Provided that the technique is different, the industry can drill without being disturbed,” complains the FNE.


Email the National Assembly TODAY - NOW

Urgent please act – 9th May

The government are starting to backtrack on what said they would do – that is put a stop to gaz de schiste. While this is no great surprise, they must be told that we have noticed and are not happy.
Christian Jacob’s bill to repeal the permits allowing exploration and exploitation of shale gas in France will be debated by the National Assembly this Tuesday and Wednesday (10th and 11th May).
The original bill has been substantially reduced and now gives the permit holders two months to explain which technique they intend to use. This means that if the companies come up with any method other than hydraulic fracturing, they will retain their licenses without further inquiry.
This revised draft of the bill does not do what we were led to believe and opens the door for petroleum companies to retain the permits and begin drilling.
The text of the email tells the assembly members that this is unacceptable.
We do not have much time. Please send your email TODAY and pass it on to your email contacts
It only takes 3 steps – or fewer if you use Word and Outlook -see below.
Do you use MS Word and Outlook?
If you use MS Word and Outlook this link
Lettre Assemblée National re 10 May 2011  will / may / should open as an email. Then all you need to do is add your name and address and press SEND. If it does not work follow the three steps below:
1. Please copy this text to a new email:
Mesdames, Messieurs,
Je vous prie de bien vouloir voter la Proposition de Loi de M. Christian Jacob visant à abroger les permis exclusifs de recherches d’hydrocarbures non conventionnels et à interdire leur exploration et leur exploitation sur le territoire national, déposée le 31 mars 2011 telle qu’elle a été présentée, sans tenir compte des amendements proposés par la Commission du Développement Durable, amendements qui dénaturent et tronquent les textes de la-dite Proposition, ouvrant ainsi la route, sans consultation publique, aux titulaires de permis pour commencer, dans deux mois, l’exploration du gaz de schiste en France.
Your Name and address / nom et adresse
2. Add your name and address where indicated.
3. Then copy and paste these addresses into the To field:

and hit SEND
This will send the email to:
Groupe Union pour un Mouvement Populaire

Groupe socialiste, radical, citoyen et divers gauche

Groupe de la gauche démocrate et républicaine
Groupe du Nouveau Centre
Députés non inscrits

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Sunday, 8 May 2011

Demo in Paris 10th May

There will be a 'Gas and Water don't Mix' demo betwenn 11am and 2pm at Place du Président Édouard Herriot in Paris (just next to the Assemblée Nationale). Click here for more details.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Event in Montcuq on Monday 9th May

There will be a photo opportunity at Montcuq on Monday 9th May (ie the day after tomorrow). The Maire is flying a banner from the tower to mark the opening of the Parliamentary debate. The press have been invited. It would be good to have a crowd of supporters to show that we have not gone away.

Meet at the tower at midday.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Schiste Happens News Blog

During the lull in Schiste related activity we have refreshed the news pages so that when it all kicks off again we will be ready to keep you informed of latest developments. Using a blog also means that we can easily archive stories which in turn means that you can easily find them, send them to friends and have a single place to dig up the information you need. All the background information about how Gaz de Schiste will affect France will stay on the Schiste Happens web site. All the news and latest developments will be here on the blog.

Although the drilling permits are on hold and government are discussing the way ahead in the National Assembley, things are also happening behind the scenes. The government are still trying to work out how to get elected and get the gas out of the ground. The gas companies are still lobbying and throwing vast amounts of money around to persuade anyone who will listen that this is a very good thing.  And protesters are still trying to stop them ruining the country.

You need to know what they are all saying and which way the Schiste-O-Meter is swinging. This news blog will keep you up to date with the latest developments in France. News from further afield, and a wider look at the whole subject of fracking for shale gas, will still be posted on BB's Say No To Shale Gas blog.

You can subscribe to both blogs so that you receive an email when a new post is added, and they both allow you to add you comments so you can have your say more easily.

Thanks for visiting. Keep the pressure on. Stop the schiste.