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French Environmentalists Fear End of Fracking Ban

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Natural Gas Europe

Environmental activists in France say they are worried the country may reverse its ban on hydraulic fracturing, imposed over a decade ago.

The potential of huge oil and gas reserves under French land has some politicians debating whether to reverse the ban, alarming anti-fracking campaigners, Radio France Internationale reported.

About 24 people gathered in the town of Jouarre to protest at a Hess Oil France facility that they say is building an oil rig platform for fracking in anticipation of a law change

“We’re here to say: we know. You have to know we are here, we know that you cannot avoid fracking, so don’t tell us you will not do it”, protester Isabelle Levy told reporters.

Levy said France’s anti-fracking law bans hydraulic fracturing, a process of extracting gas and oil from shale rock underground, without defining it and she suspects oil companies like Hess Oil France will try to use other methods to extract oil that will have the same result.

“It will be called ‘stimulation,'” Levy said. “The name is different, so the ban on fracking will remain, but not on ‘stimulation’.”

Christian Bataille, a Socialist member of the National Assembly, is working on a feasibility study on the exploitation of what he calls France’s non-conventional hydrocarbons, which includes shale oil and gas. He says the law banning hydraulic fracturing in France was passed without due consideration, presented at the start of an election campaign and supported by MPs anxious to get votes.

A senior French official told the recent Unconventional Gas Summit that he believed the ban would be lifted, as Paris took note of developments in other countries.

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