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October 4, 2022

Shale gas – protests continue, authorities consider alternative to imports

The environmental non-governmental organisations on Sunday organised protests in several Romanian towns against shale gas exploration and fracking. Over 500 environmentalists protested in eastern Vaslui and marched on the city streets, calling the locals to join the rally.
Around 150 persons protested in Bucharest’s downtown University Square, urging the Parliament and Government to pass a law banning the hydraulic fracking in exploring for and exploiting the non-conventional hydrocarbons, shale gas included. The protesters also demanded that the Government resolutions having approved the agreements for shale gas exploring and fracking be cancelled.
Around 100 people rallied in Cluj-Napoca on Sunday too to protest against the shale gas exploitation. Protests against the exploring and fracking of shale gas also were organised in Arad, Barlad and Timisoara.
In this context, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said on Monday in speaking of the protests over planned shale gas exploration and drilling that if Romania does not have domestically-produced gas it must take it from Russia.
‘Protests were held over the shale gas and I think it is a topic we must discuss very seriously. So, if we do not have gas from the domestic production, wherefrom do we take it? From Russia. In the current circumstances, I think any protest must have a purpose and I think any serious discussion on any topic is useful’, Ponta said.
He stressed he is taking the talk about the shale gas ‘very seriously’.
In its turn, Panfora Oil & Gas company says that it does not explore shale gas in the Curtici perimeter, Arad County, and informs the population, through flyers, about the operations it conducts. The explanations come after protests staged Sunday in Arad County against the exploration of shale gas in the Curtici perimeter.
Panfora Oil & Gas announced that it is ready to sign legal commitments with communities, attesting that it will not conduct shale gas related operations. The company stresses that it will only use traditional methods, during the entire length of the concession agreement, and will not resort to methods like hydraulic fracking or horizontal drilling. Panfora Oil & Gas reaffirm that it will totally comply with the Romanian laws and the lands will belong to their owners. Last Saturday at Pungesti, one day before the National Anti-Fracking Day, more than 100 people, mostly locals, protested against shale gas and marched on a distance of several kilometers on the county road that crosses the commune, up to the perimeter controlled by Chevron.
SAR: Romania does not need shale gas, for now
The energy dependence situation of our country is much exaggerated and we do not need to resort to exploring and extracting shale gas, for now, reads a report issued by the Romanian Academic Society (SAR), quoted by bursa.ro. Romania can wait until an environmentally friendlier technology is discovered for the extraction of shale gas, SAR experts believe
“Until that moment, explorations should only be allowed if the local community reached a consensus with this regard,” adds the document. An increase of the royalty would get rid of this type of arbitrage and would send the money directly to the public coffers, they consider. According to SAR, a sum of at least EUR 1 bln was “channelled” or wasted each year because of the corrupt or incompetent strategies of the energy sector. This year, Romania has the opportunity to regain its lost money and outsource the risks. Simultaneously, Romania also can use the royalty as a mean to rationalize consumption, adds the report. SAR analysts claim that, in the first place, it is urgent to include, besides technical parameters, the consent of the local community as prerequisite to obtaining the environmental license. The compensation paid to the local community must be decided by negotiation and is supposed to cover externalities and risks, as it is separate from the royalty owed to the state, which must compensate the effective transfer of property upon the resource.

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