Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Royal decree on low-cut tops

Read more

DEBATE

Ukraine, The Escalation: No Stopping Putin? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Ukraine, The Escalation: No Stopping Putin?

Read more

FOCUS

Bangladesh: Textile workers' lives still at risk?

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

José Bové, Candidate for the EU Commission presidency, Group of the Greens

Read more

WEB NEWS

NYPD's online campaign backfires

Read more

ENCORE!

Celebrating the Bard's birthday in Britain

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yuki Tatsumi, Senior Associate of the East Asia Program, Stimson Center

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

USA: Executions halted over drugs secrecy

Read more

  • Russia orders military drills as Ukraine moves on separatists

    Read more

  • Israel halts Middle East peace talks over Hamas deal

    Read more

  • A radio station preaches peace and tolerance in CAR

    Read more

  • Fresh clashes in Rio over dancer's death

    Read more

  • Platini: PSG in danger over Financial Fair Play rules

    Read more

  • Ségolène Royal denies banning cleavage at French ministry

    Read more

  • Afghan guard kills US doctors in Kabul hospital attack

    Read more

  • Palestinian unity deal stirs anger in Israel

    Read more

  • Video: Mayor in east Ukraine ready ‘to turn Slaviansk into battlefield’

    Read more

  • US would defend Japan in islands dispute, Obama says

    Read more

  • New far-right mayor moves to quash Paris region mosque

    Read more

  • US soldiers arrive in Poland as Ukraine crisis continues

    Read more

  • Fatah, Hamas agree to form Palestinian unity government

    Read more

  • Millions of Syrians desperately need aid, says UN

    Read more

  • Muslims in CAR pray for an escape route

    Read more

  • Madrid beat Bayern 1-0 in first leg of Champions League semis

    Read more

  • Britain's ex-PM Blair warns against spread of radical Islam

    Read more

  • Turkish PM offers condolences to descendants of Armenians killed in 1915

    Read more

  • Gay marriage, one year on: ‘French civilisation did not crumble’

    Read more

  • Colombian president reinstates firebrand Bogota mayor

    Read more

  • NYPD public relations campaign on Twitter goes awry

    Read more

  • In pictures: Violent protests erupt in Rio

    Read more

Europe

Video: UK shale gas towns await French oil giant Total

©

Video by Matthew WARREN , Alix BAYLE , Yong CHIM

Text by Thomas HUBERT

Latest update : 2014-02-05

Residents of several English towns are divided over planned shale gas exploration. French company Total is among the investors interested in extracting the resource through fracking – a controversial technique banned in France.

As French President François Hollande visits British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss diplomatic and military issues near Oxford this Friday, people in Lincolnshire, 230km to the north, are dealing with another aspect of relations between the two countries.

This is where the Paris-based oil and gas multinational Total obtained new concessions on January 13 to explore for shale gas, a type of natural gas trapped in deep rock formations.

“This area, just around Gainsborough, is where the Total investments are taking place. It’s 30 million pounds,” Lincolnshire County Executive Councilor Colin Davie told FRANCE 24. “Economically, it’ll be a huge impact for the national economy and locally, it will create jobs, quite clearly.”

Some Gainsborough residents welcome shale gas exploration but others fear it. “I'm a bit fifty-fifty on it. I heard that it’s really bad for the environment but on the other hand, I’ve heard it’s really good for the place you live,” a local woman told FRANCE 24.

Further west, a group of Lancashire politicians have expressed their concerns in a letter to Mr Cameron. While they do not oppose shale gas exploration in principle, local officials are asking for more than the 1% the revenues they have so far been offered.

'The Saudi Arabia of the UK'

“I believe we could be the Saudi Arabia of the UK," said Gordon Birtwistle, an MP for Burnley, another Northern English town hoping to cash in on shale gas. “The people of Burnley should get a fair share of the revenues of this bonanza, and I believe that the 1 per cent offer is not enough and we should have a figure somewhere between 1 and 10 per cent."

The fracking technique  is fiercely controversial. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves injecting water, sand and other materials under high pressure into a well to fracture rock. This opens up fissures that help oil and natural gas flow out more freely. The process generates wastewater that its critics claim poses an unacceptable risk of pollution, and even a trigger for earthquakes. 

“I don't understand how we can shake the rocks underneath the ground and expect the ground not to do something back to us. It’s very, very dangerous and I’m very scared,” said protester Roger Thompson at an anti-fracking protest in Northern England.

But advocates claim fracking is a safe, economical source of clean energy.

The French authorities have banned fracking until further notice on environmental grounds, but the Canard Enchaîné newspaper reported on Wednesday that an unpublished government-commissioned report recommends alternative techniques.

In an interview with FRANCE 24 at this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Total's chief executive Christophe de Margerie said he was still hoping to convert the French authorities to shale oil and gas extraction.

“This debate is normal: that’s new – especially for France, which is not used to having oil or gas production,” he said. “I hope that at the end, people in France will realise, like others, that it can be done in a proper way that respects the environment.”

Margerie argued that global shale exploration could push gas reserves beyond 100 years from now and increase known oil resources “by 25 percent, maybe more”.

Christophe de Margerie, CEO of Total

Date created : 2014-01-31

  • BUSINESS DAILY

    France's Total invests in UK shale gas exploration

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    France's highest legal body upholds ban on fracking

    Read more

  • THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW - DAVOS

    Christophe de Margerie, CEO of Total

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)