French court to decide if fracking ban is unconstitutional
The ban on hydraulic fracturing as a method to extract natural gas and oil in France will come under review next month in a French court. Judges will have to decide if the ban is against the constitution, as oil and gas companies have claimed.
Fracking was banned in France in 2011 and companies that held shale exploration licences had to cancel their operations altogether. Since then, several companies have claimed that the government's decision was a violation of the constitution, bringing the case to the French constitutional court. Its decision is expected on Oct. 11.
However, the government has plans to keep the ban regardless of the decision, according to environment minister Philippe Martin. His firm negative view on fracking is strongly opposed by industry minister Arnaud Montebourg, who has claimed that unconventional drilling is a way to create jobs and to help the French economy.
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The country's oil lobby, Union Francaise des Industries Petrolieres, has also called for the government to lift the ban to allow a faster economic recovery and to help France gain more energy independence.
According to the the International Energy Agency, France has enormous potential for recoverable shale gas -- the biggest in Europe, along with Poland. A parliamentary report released in June stated that the ban should be eased to at least allow exploration work to estimate the volume of shale reserves.