You may have read something recently about France’s ban on domestic fracking. Now, Friends of Drillers, a French group of oil industry people that favors fracking, has stated that natural gas and oil can be produced from shale quite safely, without seriously harming the environment. The group also accused environmental groups of falsely fanning fears and misinformation in order to maintain the ban against fracking.
This is just the latest development in a month that has seen tensions emerge between France’s oil industry and Corinne Lepage, French member of the European Parliament and staunch opponent of fracking – and, more pointedly, an environmental lawyer.
Back in 2011, the French parliament banned fracking over concerns that it can pollute drinking water reservoirs. That legislation put an end to plans by domestic oil companies like Total SA (NYSE: TOT) to prospect for shale oil and gas in southern France.
The debate over French shale operations has grown heated since Francois Hollande took office as France’s new President in May of this year. Environment Minister Delphine Batho said, on July 24, that the French government remains “totally opposed” to fracking, but Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg contradicted that statement when he said that there “is no government position” and that the topic is “not a banned subject.”
There will be an environmental policy conference organized by the French government, set for September 14 and 15, 2012. It is expected that shale oil will occupy much of the discussions.
France has been experience serious economic pressures as a consequence of the worldwide economic turbulence, and the government has faced increasing pressure both internally and from oil lobbies demanding that shale operations be permitted. The situation is especially fragile since the ‘shale boom’ over here in the U.S. has proved so very beneficial all around.
Should France decide to overturn the ban, numerous domestic oil companies would profit, including those like Total that had exploration plans.