Romania fast tracks investments in shale gas
US energy giant Chevron recently obtained another necessary environmental permit for its shale gas exploration project in Eastern Romania, from the Environment Protection Agency of Vaslui County.
According to Shale Gas Europe, “Romanian shale gas reserves could consolidate the country's role as the largest gas producer in Central Europe”.
In the gloomy setting of the economic recession, the Government of Romania took a U-turn on its previous anti-shale gas position. A 2012 decision to suspend fracking activity, following dynamic protests in southeast Romania, was reversed by the Senate on 31 January. The Senate’s overwhelming majority rejected a motion that had been proposed by incumbent PM Victor Ponta, when his USL party was in opposition. According to Euractiv, earlier this year, Victor Ponta stated that he was in favour of shale gas: “Exploration, yes. After confirmation of the existence or non-existence of shale gas, which would take appreciatively five years, we will take the decision which presumes yes, we will exploit shale gas, while respecting all European and world standards for environmental protection.”.
Shale gas has been heavily criticised by environmental NGOs, such as WWF, on both environmental and economic grounds. According to a recent statement by WWF ‘s European Policy Office in Brussels:
“The economic benefits of shale gas have been overstated, which could inhibit moves toward sustainable energy. Furthermore, we are concerned about the various demonstrated and potential negative impacts which may pose unacceptable risks to people and the environment at local level.”