US oil major Chevron has concluded shale gas exploration in the Silistea-Pungesti perimeter in eastern Romania and will start assessing data collected in the last two months on this location, reports Mediafax newswire.
The drilling was handled by Dafora, which has signed a 4-year contract with the oil company for such operations. Chevron is the first company to start seeking shale gas in Romania.
The sector has come under heavy criticism in Romania from environmentalists, which warn that hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the process of pumping water, sand and chemicals to break shale rock, runs a high risk of polluting the groundwater. Pungesti was under siege by police forces earlier this year due to protests and Chevron had to temporarily withdraw its staff that was preparing the site.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who was a staunch opponent of the shale gas sector when in opposition, has changed course once he took the top job in government in 2012. He now says that shale along offshore can help Romania strike energy sufficiency and cut its dependency on expensive gas imports from Russia. At present authorities are working on the redesign of the royalties framework for oil and gas sector, which could have differentiated rates for conventional and shale or offshore developments.
PM Ponta said it would take at least five years before any exploitation of shale gas, with a clear regulation for environmental protection, can begin in Romania.
Aside from Vaslui County, Chevron holds three concessions in southeastern Romania, near the Black Sea coast.