Bulgaria Leads EU Anti-Fracking Movement: Thousands Protest on Saturday

As Chevron Corporation moves in to frack the EU nation of Bulgaria, several thousands flooded the streets and squares of major cities, brandishing loaves of bread, beating drums and blowing whistles. The protest, which was organized by the grassroots environmental group, Fracking Free Bulgaria, was meant to be a wake up call to citizens: “No to shale gas, Yes to nature!” was the cry. Protestors were also calling on lawmakers to model France’s moratorium and “Ban Fracking Now!

Spectacular.

A few days prior to the protests, I received this information from the group:

“The title of the nationwide protest is “Bulgarians, rise up and defend your land!” and aims to make a wake-up call to all of the Bulgarians that are still not aware of the rising environmental catastrophy. The protesters demand that the government bans shale gas fracking in Bulgaria and discontinues all existing shale gas exploration and production permits.

“This is not the first protest against shale gas exploration and production in Bulgaria. The protests started in August 2011 as a result of the decision of the government to grant the American giant Chevron a five-year permit to explore 4398 square kilometers of the most fertile land in Northeastern Bulgaria called Dobrudja without the consent of the local community and without any environmental assessment of the risks that shale gas exploration may cause. The area has also high seismic activity and holds the largest underground freshwater supply on the Balkans. Chevron is not the only company that is expected to drill for shale gas in Bulgaria – Park Place Energy and Direct Petroleum have already received permits for oil and gas exploration and information from their official websites reveals that they will explore for shale gas. However, the government denies it.

“The protesters started as a Facebook group called “We are against the Bulgarian Chernobil – the shale gas drilling” that now has more than 40, 000 members. Hundreds of Bulgarians continually protested for the past five months in different cities like Sofia, Varna and Dobrich. This Saturday many other cities will join their forces – Plovdiv, Ruse, Veliko Tarnovo, Shumen, Pleven, Burgas, Kazanlak, Smolyan and Blagoevgrad. There is also anongoing civil petition for banning hydraulic fracturing in Bulgaria that has started in November 2011 – it will be taken to the Parliament in February 2012 for viewing.

“We will be glad if you report the event!”

gmihalev

A pleasure, and an honor. Read more about Saturday’s protests in The Raw Story, Agence France-Presse and Outcome Magazine, or watch a 5-minute video of the action in Sofia on YouTube, 14/01/2012 Anti shale gas protest in Sofia, Bulgaria.

UPDATE:
On Tuesday, January 17, 2011, Reuters UK reported that the Bulgarian government cancelled Chevron’s shale gas permit.

* Govt says Chevron may explore for conventional gas

* Parliament prepares to ban hydraulic fracturing fully

* Opposition to technology high due to environment concerns

SOFIA, Jan 17 (Reuters) – The Bulgarian government, preparing a full ban on shale gas drilling due to environmental concerns, on Tuesday cancelled a exploration permit for the unconventional energy source that it granted to U.S. energy major Chevron in June.

The centre-right government decided Chevron can still prospect for oil and gas in northeastern Bulgaria but only by using conventional drilling techniques and not hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting water mixed with sand and chemicals at high pressure into shale formations.

“The idea is that they can still have the right to test for oil and gas, but without using the controversial technology hydraulic fracturing,” Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

Traikov said Chevron had not been informed and talks with the company were pending.

The decision comes a day before the parliament debates a total ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Balkan country and its Black Sea territorial waters – a proposal drafted by the ruling GERB party which is expected to be passed.

The government in June granted a 5-year permit to Chevron to prospect for shale gas at the 4,400-square-km Novi Pazar field for which initial estimates, based on similar rock formations, showed potential reserves of between 300 billion and 1 trillion cubic metres of shale gas.

It hoped to reduce the country’s almost complete dependence on gas imports from Russia‘s Gazprom.

Other former Soviet-bloc states such as Poland are aggressively pursuing unconventional gas to help ensure future energy security. The Czech Republic and Hungary are two other countries exploration companies see as potentially promising.

In Bulgaria there have been widespread calls for a moratorium on shale gas exploration over concerns it may poison underground waters and trigger earthquakes. {ID:nL6E8CD1YP]

Critics worry that fracking fluids might get into groundwater-holding aquifers and contaminate them.

The impact of shale gas exploration, which has revolutionized the U.S. natural gas industry, has been under scrutiny globally.

France banned fracking in July, while Britain suspended the deep-excavation practice near Blackpool after minor tremors in the spring. (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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3 Responses to “Bulgaria Leads EU Anti-Fracking Movement: Thousands Protest on Saturday”

  1. Shirley Says:

    Well done to all you wondeful protesters – A big thank you

  2. Why do Eco-Documentaries matter? The Transatlantic un-debate on Climate Change | Foreign Policy Blogs Says:

    […] also been monitored in the US close to areas wherein fracking is at use. France has been opposed to it for environmental reasons. President Sarkozy declared the ban on fracking will be maintained until scientific proofs that it won’t ‘massacre’ the landscape. Strikes in Bulgaria have recently taken place, as citizens are increasingly worried about the environmental consequences on the quality of water. Bulgaria has been leading the European anti-fracking movement. […]

  3. http://yahoo.com/ Says:

    “Bulgaria Leads EU Anti-Fracking Movement: Thousands
    Protest on Saturday | Keep Tap Water Safe” Blinds.
    com was in fact a very good posting. If it possessed even more
    photos it should be perhaps even better. All the
    best -Kevin

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