France may ban US fracked gas imports

France may ban US fracked gas imports
© Getty Images

France is examining how it could legally ban the import of shale natural gas from the United States.

Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of energy, told lawmakers in the National Assembly Tuesday that because France has banned hydraulic fracturing within its own borders, it should also prohibit fracked gas imports, according to AFP.

ADVERTISEMENT
The issue has arisen because two companies, Électricité de France and Engie, have signed contracts to buy liquefied natural gas from the United States, where most of it comes from fracked wells.

“I’m going to examine legally how we can prohibit the import of shale gas, and in any case, these businesses will have to shift towards other markets to import only conventional gas,” Royal said.

The decision comes as the United States produces record volumes of gas, due mostly to fracking and horizontal drilling.

Because gas supply is outpacing demand, numerous projects are underway to export the gas. The first terminal, in Louisiana, was completed this year by Cheniere Energy Partners and shipped its first gas in February.

Some policymakers see gas exports as a way to help the United States's allies avoid having to buy from unfriendly countries while helping the domestic gas industry. But others see the exports as increasing demand for fracking — a process that consists of blasting underground shale rock with a high-pressure water mixture to extract the oil within — hurting the environment and the climate.

France’s government has been under pressure from environmentalists to stop fracked gas from coming to the country.

Royal said she would contact the two companies who want to import gas from the United States about her hopes to stop the imports.

“I have asked the two companies why they weren't vigilant, and I have also asked for an examination of a legal means for us to ban the import of shale gas,” she said.