Chevron obtains permits to search for shale gas near Eastern Romania

BUCHAREST -- Chevron has obtained permits to explore for shale gas in Eastern Romania, the Romanian environmental agency said, despite strong local opposition to the technique known as fracking.

"The environment protection agency of Vaslui county, in north-eastern Romania, has delivered an environmental permit to Chevron to build exploration wells," the agency said.

The permits will allow Chevron to prospect in three villages in this impoverished rural area.

Thousands of people took to the streets of the town of Barlad in the past few months to object.

In May, the company was granted permits to explore for shale gas on Romania's Black Sea coast.

Shale gas drilling has fuelled controversy around the world, and the technique used, hydraulic fraction or fracking, has been banned in France and Bulgaria.

Fracking is a process whereby liquid products, including water and chemicals, are pumped deep into oil or gas-bearing rock to cause fractures and release hydrocarbons.

A 2012 study by Duke University in the Uinted States state of North Carolina showed that drinking water wells are at risk of contamination from fracking.

Chevron maintains that all its activities "have, and will continue to be conducted in compliance with Romanian laws,European Union requirements and stringent industry standards."

Romania's center left coalition, in power since May 2012, had criticized the previous government's decision to grant Chevron and other oil groups concessions to prospect for shale gas.

But Prime Minister Victor Ponta changed his opinion this year and said he was in favor of exploration.

Dow Jones Newswires

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