U.S. companies eyeing shale gas extraction in Romania is not so much about sustainable environment as it is about politics and fighting regional trade wars. Romania might consider giving the green light on shale gas fracking and strengthen U.S. trade and diplomatic ties thus shedding a light on the tough independence trade war which is fought with Russian providers and subcontractors.
As we speak (write or read), the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has invited a Romanian Delegation consisting of officials from the Ministry of Economy, Environment, mineral resources and energy agencies to witness live technological demos of shale gas fracking in the State of Texas.
Demos of shale gas extraction technologies shall be made available to Romanian officials by U.S. companies such as Halliburton, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Cameron. All of them are currently operating in Romania. Chevron is due to start the drilling process in the second half of 2013 of a shale gas exploration well in Barlad, Vaslui county and gather seismic data in Constanta county where the company also operates.
As Chevron states on its corporate page, honest and timely communication is the guiding principle when engaging with governments, communities and local stakeholders. The thing is, Romanian shale gas extraction or fracking per se has not been given the green light yet but it seems to be on its way despite the fact that local Romanian communities have taken to the streets to protest against this “open communication” practice of bypassing local communities and engaging only with decision makers.
Civil society protests in areas such as Constanta or Barlad have started last year in the winter of Romanian austerity discontent when the now Government in office was overtly opposing shale gas extraction in Parliament. The tables having turned by the end of 2012, PM Victor Ponta said he was backing shale gas exploration and might consider exploitation.
Chevron was granted a local authorization to drill and build a drilling site in Barlad, Romania although the local population heavily protested against it. Public referendums in Constanta county related to shale gas exploration never got through as less than 50% plus 1 of the local population showed up to voting. Hence Chevron got the green light and further protests melted away.
Chevron considers natural gas as an efficient energy source and the cleanest-burning fossil fuel. Natural gas extracted from dense shale rock formations has become the fastest-growing source of gas in the United States and could become a significant new global energy source.
Romania is importing almost a third of its natural gas resources from Gazprom through subcontractors at rates much higher than its own natural gas resources. Shale gas extraction is among the priorities of the Government in office despite civil society opposition.