US energy giant Chevron said Thursday it has suspended shale gas test drilling in northeastern Romania after three days of protests by villagers opposed to fracking.
“Chevron can today confirm it has suspended activities in Silistea, Pungesti commune, Vaslui county,” a press release read.
The move comes a day after Romanian police clashed with villagers who have occupied since Monday a field to prevent Chevron from drilling its first exploration well.
The protesters are afraid of the environmental and health impact of the highly controversial drilling method used to unlock shale gas, called hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’.
The technique consists of pumping water and chemicals at high pressure into deep rock formations to free oil and gas, with environmentalists warning the process may contaminate ground water and even cause small earthquakes.
Chevron has permits to explore for shale gas in three villages in this impoverished part of northeastern Romania as well as on Romania’s Black Sea coast.
“Our priority is to conduct … activities in a safe and environmentally responsible manner consistent with the permits under which we operate,” the group said Wednesday.