Oil giant Chevron has received a permit for its first shale gas exploration borehole, to be drilled in Pungesti, a village in Romania’s Vaslui County.
The documents necessary for the permit were filed last winter. Several times this year, Pungesti residents have protested against Chevron’s exploration plans, claiming that they could contaminate the region's drinking water sources.
“The company that applied has fulfilled all conditions for the zoning permit, including the permit from the National Agency for Energy Resources, so that they could not have been denied the building permit [for the borehole]. There is no legal basis for us not to issue this document that allows them to build the exploration bore,” Mediafax quoted Marian Besliu, director of the Vaslui County Council’s Urbanism Department, as saying.
The permit has a term of 120 days, with two months permitted for drilling and sample collection.
“The objective of the proposed project is to drill an investigation and sample collection bore in order to ascertain the geological and physical characteristics of the drilled layers, and thus to see the geological structures that may have hydrocarbons and to see the production capabilities of the resources that may be discovered.
“The information from the exploration drillings will be analyzed to evaluate their economic potential and will be presented to the National Agency for Energy Resources,” according to the documentation Chevron filed with the Vaslui County Council.
The total amount of water to be used in the drilling process is put at some 35,000 liters per day. The company will not use local groundwater sources; instead, under terms of its contract, water will be transported to the area via tanker trucks and will be stored in reservoirs.
Chevron also says the drilling installation area will be covered with a membrane to “ensure the impermeability of the soil.”
Romanian Environment Minister Rovana Plumb said back in July that there was “no risk” to the environment and to local people’s health from shale gas exploration. The objections raised to Chevrom’s activities are “99.9 percent related to shale gas exploitation, and not exploration,” she said.
“Without drilling, the geological activity necessary to exploit a deposit, regardless of its nature, cannot be done. Depending on the results obtained in this exploration stage, the deposit will be exploited or not in the exploitation stage,” said Dr. Octavian Coltoi, a researcher at the Romanian Geological Survey.