Last winter saw an intense fight in Romania over Chevron’s plan to drill exploratory hydraulic fracking wells near Pungesti. It’s now possible, according to Romania Prime Minister Victor Ponta, that it will all be for naught, that there are no natural gas riches to be had in Romania’s shale region. His statement came in the middle of a political campaign, where Ponta is running to become Romania’s next President, and runoff elections are scheduled for next week.
According to Reuters, Ponta said on the Antena3 TV program Meeting Point “It looks like we don’t have shale gas, we fought very hard for something that we do not have. I cannot tell you more than this but I don’t think we fought for something that existed.” (original: “Oricum s-a amânat, pentru că se pare că nu avem gaze de şist, ne-am bătut foarte tare pe ceva ce nu avem. Nu pot să vă spun mult mai mult decât atât, dar nu cred că ne-am bătut pe ceva care exista.”)
In other words, Ponta’s opinion is there’s no natural gas to be had despite the struggle I reported on last Winter.
Chevron told Antena3 (reacting to Ponta’s statement) that the company’s engineers are still studying the samples taken during drilling operations. In other words, Chevron’s response is that Ponta is speaking out of turn, because Chevron hasn’t finished its scientific study.
Those operations were repeatedly postponed because of months of protests by local residents and activists that came from around Romania. Ponta’s government sent in Gendarme’s (national level military/police) units to squash the protests so that Chevron’s people could continue working.
The suppression of the protest was so severe that at least one Human Rights organization wrote a letter to the EU Presidency protesting the Romania Government’s treatment of the protesters. (denying several rights such as freedom of movement, freedom of expression, the right to information and freedom of assembly)
According to some Romania Oil Industry reports, the country has little choice but to frack itself. Romania had formerly had good fossil oil and natural gas resources. It was one of the first countries in the world to have a commercial oil company, and Nazi Germany made a beeline for Romania during WWII to capture its oil fields.
But, apparently, the country is past its peak of oil production, meaning that Romanian oil production has fallen quite a bit from its peak several years ago. That means Romania’s future is one of ever-increasing dependency on foreign oil and natural gas. Like the rest of the world, Romania could shift its energy footprint from fossil fuels to renewable energy and electric vehicles. Instead, the country is working hard to preserve its dependency on fossil fuels.
Fracking has been sold to Romania as a way out of the country’s energy problems. The U.S. State Department is pushing every country with frackable shale deposits around the world to adopt fracking, and to allow Western Oil Companies to work in those countries on doing the deed. The example we have to share with the rest of the world is the bonanza of oil and natural gas from Pennsylvania and North Dakota. Never mind the videos on Youtube showing people lighting their tap water on fire.
According to the Reuters report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates Romania’s shale formations can yield 51 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. However, that’s the same EIA which had to slash it’s estimate of frackable resources in the Monterey Shale (California) by 95%, and according to the Reuters report had to slash its estimate of frackable resources in Poland by a similar amount. It may be that the EIA is a crappy predictor of shale resources?
Romania’s shale deposits were seen as not only a way to put that country’s “energy” picture on solid footing, but to also aid the rest of Europe in its quest to prevent Russia from gaining an economic stranglehold by being the dominant natural gas supplier to Europe.
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