Total: Don't Understand Legal Basis for Shale Gas Permit Cancellation

PARIS (Dow Jones Newswires), Oct. 3, 2011

A spokeswoman for French oil and gas major Total said Monday the company was "very surprised" by the government's decision to cancel its exploration permit on shale gas fields in Montelimar, in the south of France.

"We are waiting for the government's notification to understand the legal basis on which this permit was canceled," said the spokeswoman.

Earlier Monday, French Energy Minister Eric Besson and Environmental Minister Nathalie Kosciusco-Morizet said in a joint statement that Total's permit had been canceled after the company submitted a mandatory report about its drilling techniques in which it maintained its plans to use a process known as hydraulic fracturing--or "fracking."

Total's spokeswoman, however, said that Total had committed to not using any technique that is banned by law.

The French government banned hydraulic fracturing in May on concerns about the technique's impact on the environment. Environmental activists had staged nationwide protests against the exploration and possible development of the fields, arguing chemicals used in the process could pollute groundwater.

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