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  It is important to realise also that the existing permits have not yet been rescinded.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 They are also calling for modifications to the French mining laws ( loi minier ) which are vastly out of date.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.