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Chevron to leave Romania. Through the eyes of the anti-fracking campaigners

Rig in Adjud, a town south of Pungesti, where Viking oil has drilled a rig starting with the spring 2014. The picture catches a flaring tower and the derrick surrounded by tall fences, just like in Pungesti. Picture taken on February the 1st. Lscking more information, the activists suspect that drilling for shale gas could be carried out at the spot.

Derrick in Adjud, a town south of Pungesti, where Viking Oil has drilled a rig starting with the spring 2014. The picture catches a flaring tower and the derrick surrounded by tall fences, just like in Pungesti. Picture taken on February the 1st. Lacking more information, the activists suspect that drilling for shale gas could be carried out at the spot.

Written by Maria Olteanu

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.



Fracking might impact the Romanian nuclear plant in Cernavoda, north of Chevron’s perimeters.

The two existing reactors of the nuclear plant in Cernavoda, located on the Danube-Black Sea chanel.

The two existing reactors of the nuclear plant in Cernavoda, located on the Danube-Black Sea chanel.

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 right to reply to the NYT article about Putin being behind the antifracking movement in Romania

PUngesti, 14 October 2013, the arrival of the first machinery

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…)

Sandra Steingraber, New Yorkers against Fracking, about her visit to Pungesti

(Please scroll down to the interview nr. 4 in the playlist of the youtube chanell of Epoch Times Romania, located in the upper left corner of the screen)

Sandra Steingraber visited Romania last week and was impressed by the resistance there. Furthermore, she saw water bubbling in the water wells along the road leading to the rig and cracks in the houses and a terrible unceassing noise.
Her conclusion is that in Pungesti and in Romania, the democratic process has been fractured in the name of energy security, but an energy security that is definitely not going to serve to the very ecologically leaving community in Pungesti, nor to Romania, who is already producing 130% of its gas needs.
She is also telling the story of the episode she has experienced there when she wanted to go to the rig, together with the villagers in Pungesti, yet they were prevented by the riot police defending the site, who has blocked the road with fences. When the people tried to pull away the fences and proceed to the rig, the riot police used tear gas.

Furthermore, the activists in the area organised a meeting inviting officials in the county, mayors, the president of the County Council (a very vocal Chevron lobby-ist) to listen to Sandra Steingraber’s on the fracking imacts. Even though they first accepted the invitation, none of them showed up at the meeting.

Another sign of how any serious talk about fracking is being blocked was the fact that the 15 minutes interview with Sandra Steingraber, due on Friday, 13th of June, upon her arrival from Pungesti, with a central television, was in the end turned into a 2 minutes minor news. This was short notice change and it came from a television who previously presented a lot of information against fracking, made huge audience on the subject and then, out of a sudden, pulled back from the subject in a very strange way.

Earlier las week, Sandra Steingraber met with a few members of the Romanian Parliament (from a small party and a independent member of the Parliament, Remus Cernea) and with the activists in Bucharest.

Sandra Steingraber week in Romania has been very honouring and inspiring for our fight and surely very informing for her. Earlier las week, Sandra Steingraber met with a few members of the Romanian Parliament (from a small party and a independent member of the Parliament, Remus Cernea) and with the activists in Bucharest.

The fight must carry on!
No fracking here, no fracking anywhere!
No gazaran!

21th of May, International Anti Chevron Day. Bucharest

21th of May, International Anti Chevron Day. Bucharest actions.

On the 21st of May, Romania joined the woldwide protests the disasters Chevron has caused all over the world where they have oil and gas operations, but also against its undemocratic, repressive means undermining the basics of democracy. The action was coordinated by the committee in Ecuador who has helped the 30.000 Ecuadorian peasants in their apparently never-ending fight against Chevron. 
In Romania, we had protests organised in 4 locations, 2 of them in perimeters concerned by Chevron fracking operations, such as Pungesti and Mangalia, and Bucharest, the capital city, and another socially very active city in Transilvania, Sibiu. 
The event in Bucharest focused on two types of actions: 
one documented in the pictures, having a strong awareness raising dimension, by means of impactful images of the diasasters Chevron left all over the world. We had 30 series of 11 stickers with images placed in 30 bus stations in Bucharest. 


Here some pictures of the action:

The second action was a flash mob that was played in 2 locations in Bucharest, focusing on the “cosy” relationship politicians have with Chevron and “strategic investors”, in general.

Here is the link with the English subtitles. ImageImage


First victim of the first Chevron fracking site in Romania (EN/FR/IT/DE/ES/GR)


Please understand that due to the strong security of information measures taken at the site, we are not yet in the position to deliver more information on the identity nor the circumstances of the accident. We are looking into it and we will keep you posted with news as they arrive. Meanwhile, we have created a petition asking Chevron and its subcontractor to come out publicly with an explanation. The incident was further more covered in silence due to the visit of Joe Biden, the vice-president of the USA, to discuss especially about Romanian Government’s plans to go ahead with fracking projects at an ever higher speed, on the background of the Ukrainian situation.

Please share this information with all the media available for you, this is how we can put more pressure on Chevron to disclose information. They definitely started with the wrong foot in Romania. And they keep rolling at the same crazy speed.

Pungesti, fracking accident, secrecy, undisclosure of information, Chevron, toxic, chemical substances, death, driller

Pungesti, fracking accident, secrecy, undisclosure of information, Chevron, toxic, chemical substances, death, driller

Press release. Please share in your networks.

EN: A fatal work accident has occurred the night of 18-19 May on the Chevron platform in the village of Pungesti, Romania, where a worker employed by the Dafora company has lost his life. According to local sources belonging to the Movement of Resistance in the village, the worker, who died instantly, was a victim of lethal substances stored in the immediate vicinity of the well. Despite draconian restrictions, anonymous sources within the Dafora company have confirmed the tragic event. Also, villagers reported the presence of an ambulance on site, and unusual activities within the Chevron occupied perimeter. From information obtained so far, the body was transported to the Institute of Legal Medicine in Bacau, and the prosecutors and work inspectors have started an inquest into this case. The fact that the press has not yet been tipped off about this serious incident leads us to believe that authorities are trying to suppress any information, in order to avoid fueling fears among the population and environmental activists with regards to the extreme toxicity of the substances that will be injected into the soil. Just as a reminder, Chevron recently started exploration work through hydraulic fracking in Pungesti, despite strong opposition from the local population.

FR: Communique: Un grave accident de travail, qui a causé la mort d’un employé de l’entreprise Dafora, s’est produit dans la nuit du 18 au 19 mai 2014, sur la plate-forme de forage dans le périmètre occupé par Chevron à Pungesti, en Roumanie. Conformement à des sources au sein du Mouvement de Résistance de Pungesti, l’ouvrier, qui est décédé sur place, a été victime d’inhalations de substances létales, stockés à proximité immédiate de la sonde. Malgré des restrictions draconiennes, des sources à l’intérieur de l’entreprise Dafora ont confirmé, sous le couvert de l’anonymat, le tragique évènement. Les villageois ont également remarqué la présence d’une ambulance sur les lieux et une précipitation inhabituelle du personnel au sein du périmètre loué par Chevron. D’après nos informations, le corps sans vie de l’ouvrier a été transféré à l’Institut de Médecine Légale de Bacau et des procureurs et inspecteurs du travail ont lancé des enquêtes sur l’affaire. Le fait que la presse n’a pas été informée jusqu’à aujourd’hui sur ce grave incident permet de dire que l’on essaie de passer sous silence l’accident, afin d’éviter d’alimenter les craintes de la population et des militants écologistes sur l’extrême toxicité des substances qui seront injectés dans le sol. Nous rappelons que les travaux ont été lancés par Chevron Pungesti malgré la forte opposition de la population locale et visent à explorer et exploiter du gaz de schiste par la méthode de la fracturation hydraulique.

IT: Nella notte tra il 18 e 19 maggio c.a. si è verificato un grave incidente di lavoro in cui ha perso la vita un dipendente della società Dafora, sulla piattaforma del perimetro occupato dalla Chevron a Pungesti. Da fonti della “Miscarea de Rezistenta”(n.t. Movimento di Resistenza) del posto, l’operaio che è deceduto all’istante, sembra sia stato vittima di sostanze letali, depositate proprio vicino alla trivella. Nonostante le restrizioni draconiane, fonti all’interno della società Dafora hanno confermato il tragico evento, sotto la protezione dell’anonimato. Inoltre i contadini hanno osservato la presenza di un autoambulanza sul luogo e un’agitazione inusuale del personale all’interno del perimetro Chevron. Dalle nostre informazioni, il corpo privo di vita e stato trasportato all’Istituto di Medicina Legale di Bacau, e i Procuratori della Repubblica ed Ispettori di Lavoro hanno avviato un inchiesta sul caso. Il fatto che sino ad oggi la stampa non è stata informata riguardo a questo grave incidente di lavoro ci legittima ad affermare che si tenta l’occultamento della notizia per non alimentare i timori della popolazione e degli attivisti ambientali riguardo all’estrema tossicità delle sostanze che verranno iniettate nel suolo. Ricordiamo che i lavori a Pungesti sono stati avviati da Chevron nonostante la forte opposizione della popolazione locale e hanno come scopo l’esplorazione e l’estrazione di gas da scisto attraverso la fratturazione idraulica.

DE: Ein tödlicher Unfall ereignete sich in der Nacht von 18. zum 19. Mai 2014, auf der Plattform der Schiefergassonde innerhalb des von Chevron besetztes Gebiet in Pungesti-Rumänien. Ein Angestellter der rumänischen Firma Dafora ist gestorben. Laut der Hinweise aus der Widerstandsbewegung „Miscarea de Rezistenta“ ansässig in der Ortschaft, .ist der Mitarbeiter sofort gestorben, als er Kontakt mit den giftigen Stoffen hatte, welche in der unmittelbarer Nähe der Schiefergassonde deponiert waren. Trotz der strengen Verpflichtung zur Geheimhaltung haben dennoch Quellen aus der Firma Dafora diese Informationen über der tödlichen Unfall bestätigt unter der Einhaltung der Anonymität. Die Bewohner von Pungesti haben einen Krankenwangen vor Ort und rege Betriebsamkeit bei den Arbeitern auf dem Plattform der Schiefergassonde von Chevron gesehen. Laut unseren Informationen wurde die Leiche des verstorbenen Mitarbeiter der Firma Dafora in das Leichenhaus Bacau untergebracht und die Staatsanwaltschaft zusammen mit den Sicherheitsverantwortlichen haben die Untersuchung gestartet. Die Tatsache, dass bis heute die Presse über den schweren Arbeitsunfall nichts berichtet, gibt uns das Recht zu sagen, man versucht den Vorfall zu vertuschen um die Ängste der Bewohner nicht zu schüren, so wie die von den Umweltschützer, da es sich um extrem giftige Stoffe handelt, die dafür vorgesehen sind in den Boden zu injektieren. Es wird daran erinnert, dass die Arbeiten von Chevron in Pungesti gestartet wurden trotz massiver Oposition der Bewohner und diese das Ziel haben, bei der Schieffergasgewinnung die hydraulische Frakturierung zu verwenden.

ES: Nota de prensa . Por favor, comparta en sus redes .Un accidente de trabajo fatal ha ocurrido la noche del 18 a 19 mayo en la plataforma de Chevron en el pueblo de Pungesti , Rumania , donde un trabajador contratado por la empresa Dafora ha perdido lavida. Según fuentes locales pertenecientes al Movimiento de la Resistencia en el pueblo, el trabajador, que murió en el acto , fue víctima de sustancias letales almacenados en las inmediaciones del pozo. Pese a las restricciones draconianas , fuentes anónimas dentro de la empresa Dafora han confirmado el trágico suceso . Además , los aldeanos informaron de la presencia de una ambulancia en el lugar, y las actividades inusuales dentro de la Chevron ocuparon perímetro. De la información obtenida hasta el momento, el cuerpo fue trasladado al Instituto de Medicina Legal en Bacau, y los fiscales e inspectores de trabajo han comenzado una investigación sobre este caso . El hecho de que la prensa aún no ha sido avisado sobre este grave incidente nos lleva a creer que las autoridades están tratando de suprimir cualquier información, con el fin de evitar alimentar los temores entre los activistas de la población y el medio ambiente en cuanto a la extrema toxicidad de las sustancias que se inyecta en el suelo . Así como un recordatorio, Chevron inició recientemente los trabajos de exploración a través de fracking hidráulico en Pungesti , a pesar de la fuerte oposición de la población local.

GR: Ένα θανατηφόρο εργατικό ατύχημα συνέβη τη νύχτα της 18ης προς 19η Μαΐου στην πλατφόρμα της Chevron στο χωριό Pungesti της Ρουμανίας, όταν ένας εργαζόμενος της εταιρείας Dafora έχασε τη ζωή του . Σύμφωνα με τοπικές πηγές που ανήκουν στο Κίνημα Αντίστασης στο χωριό , ο εργαζόμενος , ο οποίος πέθανε ακαριαία , ήταν θύμα των θανατηφόρων ουσιών που φυλάσσονται σε άμεση γειτνίαση με το πηγάδι εξόρυξης. Παρά τους δρακόντιους περιορισμούς , ανώνυμες πηγές εντός της εταιρείας Dafora επιβεβαίωσαν το τραγικό συμβάν . Επίσης , οι χωρικοί ανέφεραν την παρουσία ενός ασθενοφόρου στο χώρο, και ασυνήθιστες δραστηριότητες εντός της περιμέτρου της Chevron . Από τα στοιχεία που έχουν συγκεντρωθεί μέχρι στιγμής , το σώμα μεταφέρθηκε στο Ινστιτούτο Νομικής Ιατρικής στο Bacau , και οι εισαγγελείς και οι επιθεωρητές εργασίας έχουν ξεκινήσει έρευνα για την υπόθεση . Το γεγονός ότι ο Τύπος δεν έχει ακόμη ενημερωθεί για το σοβαρό αυτό περιστατικό μας οδηγεί στο να πιστεύουμε ότι οι αρχές προσπαθούν να αποσιωπήσουν οποιαδήποτε πληροφορία , προκειμένου να αποφύγουν να πυροδοτηθούν φόβοι μεταξύ του πληθυσμού και των περιβαλλοντικών οργανώσεων σε σχέση με την ακραία τοξικότητα των ουσιών που θα χύνεται στο έδαφος. Να υπενθυμίσουμε πως η Chevron ξεκίνησε πρόσφατα εργασίες εξερεύνησης μέσω υδραυλικής ρωγμάτωσης στο Pungesti , παρά την έντονη αντίθεση του ντόπιου πληθυσμού .