Friday, 23 March 2012

Gaz de Schiste - Crunch time!

The commission of inquiry set up under the loi Jacob of 13th July 2011 banning hydraulic fracking and tasked with assessing aspects of likely reserves underground, the effect on the environment, climate and more, delivered its report on 22nd March 2012. It does not make good reading.

The commission, as expected, had an imbalance in its membership of representatives of the oil and gas industry, 'scientific and technical experts' and elected representatives. Environmental associations were in a minority. The 'final' report concludes that exploration, including propane fracturation and electro-fracturation which are proposed as alternatives to hydraulic fracturing, may take place under the banner of 'scientific research' and under 'strict public control'.  The authors are in favour of a 'limited number of wells'. We consider that this is in direct contradiction of the spirit if not the letter of the loi Jacob. They have further determined that there is a need to look at the 'richness' underground at the same time taking 'the maximum precautions'. Drilling experiments will commence in the area of the Paris Basin where there are existing permits and then follow on 'elsewhere'. Timetable: first half of 2012 = 'evaluation of techniques for exploration and exploitation' ( to be made public as a direct result of pressure from environmental groups ). Second half of 2012 and first half of 2013 = 'collation of findings produced by employing conventional bore holes to assess the location of oil and gas reserves'. Second half of 2013 = 'proposition for a new law and parliamentary vote'.
It is understood that the permit application for Beaumont de Lomagne (10,405 km2 : BNK Petroleum ) covering the Lot, Dordogne, Tarn-et-Garonne, Ariège and Gers ( including Mirande: Gas2Grid) is now 'under instruction'. The Conseil General of the Lot-et-Garonne are now to undertake a formal study of the risks from drilling. The Cahors permis application remains 'en cours'.

You may well wish to read the above more than once. We have condensed the information from a wide range of sources including governmental and other sites, press reports and commentary from contacts in the French environmental movement and of course the orginal report ( Décret No 2012-385 du 21 mars 2012 relatif à la Commission nationale d'orientation de suivi et d'évaluation des techniques d'exploration et d'exploitation des hydrocarbures liquides et gazeux ). We apologise for any possible minor errors that may have slipped in. Either way, it really is time to for us all to decide just exactly where we stand. It is vital that elected representatives ( the very ones that we ex-patriots are able to vote for ) be approached in this matter since local maires and members of each Conseil General will play a vital role in determining outcomes. It is even more important for us to show solidarity with our French colleagues in supporting initiatives such as the demonstration referred to in our last blog and all those that will surely follow in the coming months. It is vital that as many of your contacts/friends as possible who may be affected by this abomination be informed. Please therefore use every channel available ( address book, Facebook, Twitter etc to spread the word as soon as possible ). Thank you.

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