Inside the United States, the Fracking industry (hydraulic fracturing) has undergone a boom despite its catastrophic effect on the environment and human and animal life. Pumping massive quantities of water together with a secret cocktail of chemicals at high pressure into the ground fractures rocks and releases deposits of gas and oil. However, this wasteful use of important water resources also contaminates ground water supplies and leads to the degradation and impoverishment of other economic resources, such as farming. At the moment a draft rule is under consideration by the US Department of the Interior which would allow drilling companies to keep secret the chemicals used until after hydraulic fracturing is completed
Yet, the circumstances facing the Frackers in the USA is not replicated elsewhere. The population density, and environmental restrictions are different in other countries of the world, particularly in Europe. These facts have been creating difficulties for this despoiling gas extraction process. The main western investors such as ExxonMobile, Chevron, Beitling Oil and Gas and ConocoPhillips having grabbed multiple licenses to drill in many countries are being vigorously opposed. In addition the costs of this process are rapidly growing along with the difficulties involved.
For example, the costs of extraction in Poland are 3 times that of the US. In other countries it could be up to nine times the US extraction costs. European shale basins are smaller, often spread in difficult shapes and frequently near to high population centres. Importantly France banned Fracking in July last year and cancelled exploration permits held by Total and Schuepbach Energy early this year. Bulgaria has done the same after public demonstration against the practice in the Capital Sofia. Cuadrilla Resources suspended drilling here in the UK after minor earthquakes in the North West occurred.
Unlike in the USA and China, Fracking is on the back foot in Europe. However, residents associations and campaign groups should keep up their opposition to this latest capitalist exploitation industry, in the knowledge that economics and environmental concerns are on their side. Always remembering that these companies have huge resources and considerable influence – so things can always change in their favour. Wigan Green Socialist group, are to be congratulated for playing an important part in increasing the awareness of the effects of this process to a wider audience.
Roy Ratcliffe. (Also at http://www.critical-mass.net)
Video footage from last September’s Camp Frack anti-fracking demonstration at Hesketh Bank between Southport and Preston.