Press Release of the Frack Free Group (EN, FR, DE – short version)
(Romanian Version here)
The underground water contamination in Beba Veche village in Romania is becoming an aggravating issue, something that has been notified ever since 2011, when the water became flammable, a fact later reconfirmed by the high arsenic concentrations in the water, well above the maximum limit admitted, in the village and surrounding areas. Several local and national NGOs and civil society groups are demanding the authorities to treat this problem with the highest consideration and have requested information to 11 institutions responsible for environmental protection and public health in one single letter, invoking the law transposing the Aarhus convention into the Romanian legislation. (more…)
Following the announcements made by Chevron in recent months regarding its decision to abandon projects inLithuania, Poland and then Ukraine, Romania was the last European barricade for the company.
On Friday, a Chevron representative said in London, commenting on the recent decisions to withdraw from thethree aforementioned countries “That leaves Romania, where we are in the process of relinquishing our concession interests”. The spokesman did not say why Chevron was giving up the Romanian concessions, which only leaves room for speculation. Romanian activists know that the announcement looks simply too good to be true, especially after the serious conflicts in Pungești and the fierce defence that the Romanian state has pledged to offer to shale gas companies in Romania, despite strong opposition.
An official announcement from Chevron has yet to be made while the status of the four licences they hold inRomania remains uncertain. When some companies departed from Poland, others bought the mineral rights from the outgoing company.
In Romania, the fight against fracking continues, as Chevron is the first company to announce its withdrawal from the country. Some 43 other companies still hold valid permits – whose target is not known due to abusive non-disclosure clauses in the contracts.
Yet, there are various places in Romania where wells are being drilled, some with flaring activities, some withsevere water contamination issues on the border with both Hungary and Serbia, in the municipality of Beba Veche and the surrounding municipalities – with the authorities stating, without pointing to any studies that the cause is natural). And on top of that, there has been widespread seismic testing taking place across the Romanian countryside in recent years, which can only leave one thinking that there is enough information to support such a massive effort in investigating the hydrocarbon potential.
Furthermore, another 38 new licences are about to be granted by the National Agency for Mineral Resources – championing the lack of transparency among Romanian authorities – which has turned all the information the Agency was dealing into job secrets, by means of an abusive document issued by the director of the Agency.
Chevron’s departure leaves Romanian campaigners, who are taking into account all the previous information, in astate of shock, since Chevron had only drilled one well in one of its four licence areas, which is definitely notsufficient to assess the potential of shale gas in Romania.
In fact, for the anti-fracking campaign in Romania, Chevron’s move leaves activists without an official target, as officially, there was only Chevron exploring for shale gas. Yet, those opposing fracking know that Chevron’s departure signifies just a minor victory, but definitely not winning the war against fracking. They are, in fact, suspecting the fact that behind Chevron’s move, there will be more companies drilling undisturbed to identify shale gas potential, unaccounted for, such as OMV Petrom, Halliburton, Hunt Oil, Panfora Oil, NIS Petrol, Romgaz, away from a public that has received the piece of news it has longed to hear – Chevron leaving Romania.
With a very untransparent bureaucracy when dealing with civil society issues and much exploration still taking place around the country, despite the oil price crisis, Romanians are rather reserved when assessing the news ofChevron’s withdrawal, knowing that there is much to be done in order to stop fracking in Romania and acrossEurope, especially with a very frack friendly European Commission and its Energy and Climate Change Commissioner, Spain’s Cañete, coming from the oil and gas industry.
Written by Maria Olteanu
Nuclearelectrica, the Romanian state-owned nuclear company running the only nuclear plant in Romania, with 2 reactors and planning to build 2 more, with Chinese investors) has commissioned a study to analyse the impact of the fracking activities proposed by Chevron, which has 3 perimeters for shale gas south of the nuclear plant, on the nuclear plant in Cernavoda, in the South-Eastern region of Romania, Constanta county.The study has found that fracking might have an impact on the power plant and has warned against any fracking activities within a radius of 100 km around it. It is for the first time that a voice from the energy sector in Romania dares to speak out regarding fracking.
The company decided to commission the study following the massive public debate started in Romania on the issue of fracking and the concerns raised by the civil society around the issue of fracking and shale gas. The study was carried out by CITON Bucuresti during 2014, “Impact assessment of shale gas extraction on the seismicity of the CNE Cernavodă site and on the zonal tectonics and hydrology”. The research was financed with public funding provided by the National Authority for Research and Development. (more…)
The Romanian antifracking groups have received the article in the New York Times with massive disappointment for the low journalistic quality and the poor documenting of the author. What is more astonishing, he even traveled to Romania in order to write the article, which looks entirely like a piece of propaganda paid by the fracking industry, than an article in one of the biggest newspapers in the world. The article does not mirror any of the opinions of the antifracking activists, it is just a compilation of gossips and allegation which no one bothered to prove. Therefore the reaction of the Romanian antifracking Groups was quick and argumentative: an open letter was soon drafted and signed by 35 groups in Romania and outside Romania, but made out of Romanian expats. Here is the wording of this letter:
Dear Mr. Higgins,
We have read your article about the antifracking activism in Romania and we were staggered to find such lack of journalism in one of the most prestigious papers in the world. What a shame! You tried to discredit the Romanian antifrackingmovement based on pure speculations, suspicions, allegations and “circumstantial evidence” only, that yourself admit in the body of the article. Your title makes an accusation that you later refute by admitting that there’s no proof for the allegations that Russia is behind the protests against Chevron in Pungesti and Romania in general. Still, by doing so you’ve empowered the Romanian media to further discredit our justified fight for a clean environment. (more…)
Open letter to The New York Times after its gossip-like article concerning “suspicions” of Russia funding anti fracking activists in Romania
(To write an email to the author Andrew Higgins please click here or sign the Open Letter with your name in the comments area!)
Dear Mr. Higgins,
I have just read through your article about antifracking activism in Romania. Reading it all would have taken too much time for an article that is lacking a basic element of journalism: evidence. Although all in all the article seems to be objective since it admits that there’s no proof for the allegations that Rusia is behind the protests against Chevron in Pungesti and Romania in general.
Still, there’s something weird about the article and I have doubts that it’s journalism at all. I hardly remember having read articles in trustworthy newspapers that are based on suspicions, allegations and “circumstantial evidence” only – and it’s by far not enough to admit that you don’t have evidence, to make your text fulfill the basic requirements of a press article. You said it: Even the head of Romania’s (pro-American/Western) secret service admits that there’s no proof whatsoever of Russia paying us, the antifracking activists. And still, you uphold the suspicions in the title of your article. (more…)
Written By Maria Olteanu, Frack Free Group, Bucharest, for the book Global Resistance to fracking, coordinated by Samuel Martin-Sosa, Ecologistas in accion, Spain
Pungesti is a municipality in the Romanian NE county of Vaslui, considered as one of the poorest in Romania. It consists of 9 villages with a total population of little over 3000 inhabitants, mostly consisting of self-sufficient farmers and small scale farmers, with agricultural production focused mainly on cereals and raising cattle. Due to its relatively long distance to the next bigger city, around one hour drive, the job opportunities are rather scarce. The available jobs are mainly unskilled jobs during the agricultural season, and the youth tends to migrate to bigger cities, in search of jobs. Yet the elderly population consists mainly of self-sufficient farmers, which makes them heavily dependent on their water and their land staying clean. They have always grown their own food and, due to the relative poverty, they were kept away from the mechanisms of the consumerism and waste, leading a life mostly in harmony with the nature, like most of the Romanian countryside.
This place turned from one normal backwater village in the region of Moldova into one of the hotspots of the environmental fight, whose name became well-known throughout Romania and even abroad in 2013. (more…)
Last days, Bucharest hosted a big energy lobby event, where all the American speakers have told underlined “how threatened Romania is by Russia”, that we need to invest in a stronger army to protect us from Russia, as no army in the region will help us and, of course, to untap the ressources that we have (a speech that’s now more and more common in Romania, whenever we have guests from the other side of the ocean, and that tends to be very often lately).
In this interview in the Adevarul article, you will see what type of propaganda the Romanian people are constantly exposed to. Please note that Romania is now in the run for the presidential elections, and that all the candidates with chances of winning are more or less explicit pro-fracking. (more…)