Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chevron suspends Romania activities amid anti-fracking protests

(AFP)

Pungesti — Hundreds of protesters rallied Saturday in the northeastern Romanian village of Pungesti against plans by Chevron to drill for shale gas, leading the US energy giant to temporarily suspend activities there.

"Chevron go home", protesters chanted as they tore down barriers to briefly enter the site where Chevron intends to drill its first exploration well in Romania.

In a statement sent to AFP, Chevron said it "has suspended activities in Pungesti commune as a result of unsafe conditions generated by unlawful and violent protester activities."

It said the suspension was temporary without elaborating.

It is the second time that Chevron has been forced to suspend its activities in this Romanian village due to anti-fracking protests.

The first suspension occurred in mid-October but Chevron on Monday had resumed its operations after Romanian riot police forcibly removed shale gas protesters from a makeshift camp next to the drilling site.

"We want our soil to stay free from pollution, we want Chevron to leave," one of the protesters, Adrian Pana, 33, told AFP on Saturday.

Many in this rural region oppose the highly controversial drilling technique used to extract shale gas known as "hydraulic fracturing" or "fracking".

Widely used in some US states like Pennsylvania and North Dakota, it has been banned in France and Bulgaria because of potential pollution to air and water.

Protesters also called for the resignation of Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who opposed shale gas while in the opposition but became a promoter once in power.

Chevron said this week it will continue its "dialogue with the public, local communities and authorities".

On Saturday, the group said it has "the required permits and approvals for our activities in Pungesti".

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