By Daniel Stroe – Bucharest
Romania holds at least 1,444 billion cubic meters of shale gas, placing the country on a third place in Europe in terms of such reserves, following Poland and France, according to the National Agency for Mineral Resources (ANRM).
The figures are released as the governmental agency issues a website dedicate to shale gas amid an information campaign and public debate concerning the exploitation of these resources which has been with both suspicion and street protests in Romania.
The information campaign, which took the shape of a website (www.infogazedesist.eu), is an EU financed project to deploy till the end of the year. The campaign will wrap up with two public debates in Bîrlad and Dobrogea, a town in Eastern Romania and, respectively, the region in south-east where the shale gas deposits are concentrated.
Both the debates and the informational campaigns have set as objectives developing the dialogue with citizens so that the latter find out more about the shale gas exploration and exploitation processes. Authorities hope the population will be able to shape its own opinion on shale gas at the end of these public events.
According to the statistics posted on the aforementioned website, Romania is on the European podium of shale gas reserves, with deposits going up to more than 1,444 billion cubic meters. Poland and France holds the first two positions with 4,190 and, respectively, 3,879 billion cubic meters of shale gas reserves, while Denmark comes fourth after Romania with 906 billion cubic meters.
The debates come as local authorities in the Constanta County in SE Romania issued exploration permits for three areas covering 270.000 hectares. The Ministry of Environment explained this stage does not involve studies to asses the impact on the environment. Shale gas production has sparked fears of local NGOs who say the process leads to chemical contamination of underground waters. Several ample street protests have taken place so far, with most of the opposition focused in the town of Bîrlad.
The public’s distrust has also been nourished by inconsistent position on shale gas production coming from central authorities. Last year, the previous democrat-liberal government showed support of shale gas explorations, but the next coalition executive led by the current PM Victor Ponta issued a memorandum to cease all shale gas related activities. Six months later, after the memorandum expired, Ponta made a U-turn and said he was in favor of exploiting such reserves.