Thousands protest Chevron's shale gas plans in Romania
By Ioana Patran
BARLAD, Romania (Reuters) - Thousands of Romanians across the country protested on Thursday against Chevron's (CVX.N: Quote) plans to explore for shale gas, demanding the country's leftist government withdraw concessions and ban drilling of the U.S. company's first test wells.
About 500 rallied in the town of Barlad on the eastern border with Moldova where Chevron (CVX.N: Quote) has a nearby 1.6 million acre concession, some wearing gas masks, many chanting "Chevron go home."
Chevron has exploration rights for three blocks of 670,000 acres near the Black Sea, and has also bought the concession close to Barlad for an undisclosed amount.
Hydraulic fracturing or fracking to extract shale gas involves injecting water and chemicals at high pressure into underground rock formations.
Experts say that if it is done according to best practice it is environmentally safe, but the technology still evokes public concern.
Many countries in central and southeastern Europe see shale gas as a way to wean themselves off Russian supplies, though Romania only imports about a quarter of what it uses due to conventional reserves.
Analysts say that Romania's shale gas deposits, added to its conventional reserves, could make the Balkan nation self-reliant in gas use -- a proposition many of the protesters say is not worth the risk.
"Shale ... will only wreak havoc here," said 63-year-old pensioner Elena Arsenie. Continued...