Total CEO Calls for French Shale Gas Ban to be Lifted

PARIS - The ban on shale gas fracturing in France should be lifted, Total SA's Chairman and Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie said Friday.

"The first thing to do for a proper debate is to know what we're talking about. Today, we're speaking about something that hasn't even been studied," Mr. de Margerie said.

France in 2011 banned all shale gas extraction through hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, which consists in pumping water, sand and chemicals into the shale rock at high pressure to help release the gas, because of environmental concerns and fears over polluting water tables.

Even though the country is believed to harbor one of Europe's largest shale gas reserves, the ban was confirmed by the President Francois Hollande's government when it came to power last year, to the dismay of industrials and energy groups, which claim that shale gas could contribute to energy independence and lower energy prices, helping boosting French companies' competitiveness.

In spite of the renewed ban and the lack of additional studies over the potential shale gas reserves, the debate between environmentalists and shale gas supporters in France has remained heated.


Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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