With over 80 percent of Bulgaria's 2.6 BCM coming from Russia, the country's embrace of shale is as enthusiastic as Poland's. I've said many times that there are rarely any nefarious conspiracies. The big secret is that there is no big secret. But in some cases I'm willing to concede that , there are exceptions:
MPs from the main opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party have demanded that the government impose a moratorium on all shale gas drilling in Bulgaria over concerns about its hazardous environmental effects.
End of May it was announced that US energy giant Chevron has won a major bid to explore for shale gas in northeast of Bulgaria.
Socialist MPs have now asked Bulgarian Minister of Economy and Energy Traicho Traikov to impose moratorium on shale gas drilling until further studies are conducted on the safety of the technique.
According to them, such an assessment must be commissioned by the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment, reports Bulgarian left-wing daily Duma Saturday.
Socialists have also asked for referenda among the local population in the exploration sites.
They have argued that not only production, but even exploration for shale gas might lead to severe damage to soils and underground waters.
Bulgarian politics obviously haven't heard of balance or nuance. However, the Bulgarian Socialist Party can still count on any number of journalists who will be happy to toe the new party line. Luckily, there are some in Bulgaria who go for what is truly in the national interest, the scientific approach:
.Sofia. Nobody has so far proven there are industrial deposits of shale gas in Bulgaria, professor Kristalina Stoykova, head of a group of experts for shale gas research at the Geology Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, said in an interview with FOCUS News Agency.
On Wednesday the Bulgarian government granted a five-year exploration permit to the U.S. company Chevron to conduct tests at Novi Pazar field in northeastern Bulgaria.
“There are only hypotheses. The new tests and assessments will show what the actual deposits are and whether any of them could be used. In Bulgaria U.S. ambassador James Warlick was the one to focus attention on shale gas. Last year he said Bulgaria has enormous deposits and it did not need Russian gas. I do not want to get into politics. I will make some comments as a Bulgarian scientist and expert who is bound with no interests, other than national,” she said.
She added that six more fields in northeastern Bulgaria, in addition to the one close to Novi Pazar, had been offered in a tender. The oil companies that will win the tender will be allowed to fulfill their program within five years and look for unconventional oil and gas deposits, the expert said.
Asked whether it is dangerous, professor Stoykova underlined there was no risk to people and environment at the exploration stage.
This last sentence is interesting, echoing something I heard last week from British and French geologists
“There is not even a theoretical risk to people and region of Novi Pazar. And I will tell you why – because more than 1,000 drilling tests similar to the one Chevron plans to do were carried out in northern Bulgaria. In the past 40-50 years there has been much of exploration work testing for oil and gas and nothing bad has happened,” she said.
Just as fracking has been used in North America for over 60 years, with the odd unfortunate accident but generally totally under the radar, so too has fracking been used in Europe, albeit on a smaller scale for several decades as well.
It's often said that Europe's problems stem from an unfamiliarity with oil and gas extraction that makes people scared of a future shale gas industry. Much of the unfamiliarity stems from the fact that in many places in Europe, conventional oil and gas and fracking has been going on for years with very few any the wiser.
For only one example, spot the difference:
Sandbanks Beach is undoubtedly the BEST beach on the South Coast of England …. Some would say in Britain !
Sandbanks itself is a small peninsula, which contains some of the most expensive houses and land in the country, in fact Sandbanks is becoming as famous for its well know residents and lavish lifestyles of some of its occupants as it is for its beach. For those seeking the ultimate in beach life style, some of the most exclusive houses boast direct access onto the beach and stunning sea views.
Can you imagine the devastation if we let oil and gas drilling happen there?
Wytch Farm is an oil field and processing facility in the Purbeck district of Dorset, England. It is the largest onshore oil field in western Europe. The facility, operated by BP, is hidden in a coniferous forest on Wytch Heath on the southern shore of Poole Harbour,
The field extends eastwards from Sandbanks and Studland for around 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) under the sea to the south of Bournemouth.