Lithuania’s Constitutional Court ruled on December 16 that regulations allowing exploration for shale gas using controversial hydraulic fracturing technology does not breach the constitution.
Theoretically, the ruling should help open the way for shale gas exploration to finally kick off in the Baltic state. However, like elsewhere in Europe, enthusiasm for shale has died down on the back of falling oil prices and geological conditions less promising than thought.
The court ruled against an application by a group of MPs, who claimed in 2013 that amendments to the subsoil law allowing fracking breach the constitution because the technology is harmful to the environment and human health. The court said, however, the amendments’ provisions for safe use of the technology were enough to guarantee fracking operations were carried out without harm.
However, it appears unlikely exploration in Lithuania will be quick to start. US oil major Chevron won an exploration tender in 2013, but political changes in the country saw the deal scrapped. Environment Minister Kestutis Treciokas told BNS in October Lithuania would not explore for shale gas in the near future.
The country’s LNG terminal, launched early in 2015, has also contributed to pushing shale gas exploration down the priority list. According to estimates, Lithuania might have 100bn-120bn of cubic meters of shale gas, however it is impossible to verify this figure without exploration drilling.
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