France: Government Report Puts Fracking Back On The Agenda

  • Date: 06/11/12
  • Natural Gas Europe

A report on competitiveness of the French economy commissioned by the Hollande government provided a surprise result, with the recommendation that unconventional hydrocarbon extraction by hydraulic fracturing be allowed to proceed.

Pointing to the beneficial impact of shale gas development on the re-vitalization of American industry, Commissioner for Investment Louis Gallois recommended an end to France’s moratorium on shale gas exploration.

Gallois, the former chief executive of European Aeronautic Defense & Space (EADS) and SNCF, recommended that research on techniques for shale gas development be undertaken with European partners.

However, the government was quick to dismiss the suggestion.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that shale gas development using hydraulic fracturing would not be amongst the measures considered to boost competitiveness.

Ayrault reaffirmed that the prohibition of the use of hydraulic fracturing taken by President Francois Holland in September, remained unchanged.

Speaking at the opening of a conference focused on the themes of the transition to new energy sources and biodiversity, Hollande said that he would order the rejection of seven applications for permits to explore for shale gas, citing potential impacts on health and the environment related to the process of hydraulic fracturing.

“As far as the exploration and exploitation of non-conventional hydrocarbons is concerned, this will be my policy throughout my [five-year] term of office,” said the President of the French Republic.

Prior to the release of the Gallois report, Minister of Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg had commented that the nation must be open to the potential of shale gas and had hinted the issue will be “on the table.”

Alain Vidal, the Socialist Minister for Parliamentary Relations, also commented that no one thought door for shale gas exploration was closed “for eternity.”

Natural Gas Europe, 6 November 2012