The exploration and extraction of shale gas is not illegal in Romania, but the companies that have signed agreements to conduct these operations are facing significant difficulties in obtaining the necessary permits although they are making desperate efforts, representatives of the National Agency for Mineral Resources (ANRM) stated for ‘Gandul’ daily. Moreover, the shale gas moratorium that the Ponta Government adopted in May last year and that entailed that authorities would no longer issue permits to companies interested in this kind of resource expired last December, Remus Cernea, Premier Victor Ponta’s former aide on environment issues, explained. Premier Ponta stated on Friday that he supports the exploration for shale gas. In what concerns the drilling per se, Ponta stated: “Exploration, yes. After the existence of natural gas reserves is confirmed (approximately 5 years) we will take a final decision that entails that we will extract shale gas while respecting all European and world standards on environment protection,” HotNews.ro reports. When asked when the drilling for shale gas may start, Dorin Cojocaru, Director of ANM’s Directorate for the Management, Evaluation and Concession of Oil Resources/Reserves, avoided giving a clear answer. On the other hand, he stated that the Environment Ministry has asked ANRM to introduce in oil agreements a provision that bans fracking during the exploration period. The Vaslui County Council issued permits for SC Chevron Romania Exploration and Production SRL to start fitting out and drilling works at the Paltinis 1A exploration rig in Paltinis locality, Bacesti commune, Vaslui County. This is the first shale gas permit in the country, money.ro informs. Vaslui County Council President Dumitru Buzatu stated that the issuance of the permit is legal. Likewise, Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian stated on Thursday in Focsani that the environment impact has to be considered both in the Rosia Montana and the shale gas case. In what concerns shale gas, he pointed out that allowing drilling operations at this moment would mean “compromising the seaside’s image.” However, the minister explained that when the technology exists and the environment impact is no longer as significant the option of shale gas drilling will have to be reanalyzed. In reply, Premier Victor Ponta underlined that the main exploration licenses are in Vaslui. “And I believe there is no seaside in Vaslui… or maybe there is?” Ponta sarcastically asked.