Bulgaria's cabinet bans shale gas exploration, suspends contract with Chevron.

By bne IntelliNews January 18, 2012
The government banned the prospecting and exploration of shale gas as the method of hydraulic breaking has not proved to be safe enough for the environment, the cabinet informs in a note on its website. As a result, the council of ministers withdrew its decision to allow the US oil company Chevron to explore shale gas deposits on a 5,000 sqm land plot near Novi Pazar in the northeast part of the country. Chevron planned to invest EUR 50mn in the project under a 5-year contract and pay EUR 30mn for the permit to the state. Economy and energy minister Traykov has said that the shale gas deposits in the country are ranging between 300bn and 1trn cubic metres, according to preliminary estimates of interested in exploration companies. Bulgarias total annual gas consumption amounts to 3bn cubic metres, 90% of which are imported from Russia. The decision of the government follows a number of protests against shale gas exploration on environment and health issues. Earlier this week, the parliamentary economic and energy commission decided to impose a temporary moratorium on shale gas exploration until the legislation was amended to require environment impact assessment.

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