French President Nicolas Sarkozy Tuesday reiterated that his government won’t authorize the drilling for shale gas until the technology is proven to be environmentally clean.
“There won’t be shale gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing in this territory,” and extraction “can’t be done at any price,” said the president.
Sarkozy, speaking in the Gard region in southern France, confirmed the government has cancelled three exploration permits on shale gas fields as the companies maintained their intention to drill the potential fields using a technology which is also known as “fracking”, which involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground to crack open the rock and force the oil or gas to the surface.
Shale gas deposits are pockets of gas trapped in pores of sedimentary rocks.
The government’s decision represents a blow to efforts by the companies to exploit shale gas in France. A report issued in April following a government request said French shale oil and gas fields are potentially some of the most promising in Europe and banning exploration before the reserves are assessed could be detrimental to France’s economy and labor market.
The French government banned fracking in May over concerns about the technique’s impact on the environment, after activists staged nationwide demonstrations to protest the exploration and possible developments of the fields, fearing the chemicals used in the process could pollute groundwater supplies.
The French oil industry opposes the government decision to cancel the permits as the country badly needs to develop oil and gas. Banning shale gas forever would be a major mistake as several producers in the U.S. are drilling for shale gas preserving the environment, said Gerard Mestrallet, the Chief Executive of French power company GDF Suez (GSZ.FR), according to French newspaper Sud Ouest.
France is the only country that bans fracking, the oil industry group UFIP said in a Tuesday statement.