Romania will not exploit shale gas at least in the next five years, yet efforts must be made to secure its energy independence by using the domestic production, Prime Minister Victor Ponta Thursday told the state radio station.
"For the time being and in the next five years, not a single cubic metre of shale gas will be exploited in Romania," said the prime minister to Radio Romania Actualitati, explaining that "in the next five years, Romania has to set in place the best performing and most up-to-date environmental protection legislation, so that we may have all the guarantees in place if shale gas will really be exploited in five years' time."
According to him, shale gas exploitation has to be put in the context of Romania securing its natural gas demand from its own resources.
"If we do not have gas from domestic production, we will buy it from Gazprom, because there is no other gas producer in the region selling gas," Ponta said, stressing that "Romania securing energy independence for itself and Moldova is such important an objective that by all means, yet in compliance with the highest environmental standards, but by all means to have such resources from the Black Sea or elsewhere in Romania, we have to use them."
"We should not ignore them so as to come to depend on Russia for natural gas," underlined the head of government.
Romania is thought to have 1.44 trillion cubic meters of unproved technically recoverable shale gas resources, enough to fuel its energy needs for about 100 years, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
The Bucharest authorities lifted its moratorium on shale gas exploration one year ago, and the country has high hopes of becoming one of the biggest gas producers in the EU.
Yet, locals from villages with exploration potential have been protesting against the exploration ever since. The protesters claimed there is a high risk of polluting air and underground waters, with a devastating impact on the flora and fauna across large areas.
US oil and gas company Chevron which won exploration approval, has attempted to drill exploratory wells in the town of Pungesti twice last year - once in October and once in December - but has had to suspend its activities each time due to protests.