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France bans fracking

Senate voted 176 to 151 to approve a law banning practice

FRANCE has become the first country to make hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale oil or gas illegal, after the Senate voted 176 to 151 to approve a law banning the practice.

Firms that now use the extraction method could have their licences revoked or their executives thrown in jail. Only a parliamentary vote on a new law to allow fracking would reverse the ban.

But that is unlikely. Many of the votes against the bill came from members of the Socialists who believed it did not go far enough.

The Union Francaise des Industries Petrolieres (UFIP), an industry lobby group that represents Total, Toreador Resources, Vermilion Energy and other firms that hoped to tap French shales for oil and gas, said it regretted the decision, which came after an “accelerated” parliamentary process.

It suggested the ban would have a negative impact on the French economy and also noted that the practice had been long deployed in the international oil and gas industry.

French energy minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet has said that a ban could trigger legal action from firms that had already won licences to explore the country’s shale deposits, including the Paris basin, which is thought to hold significant shale-oil riches.

The new law gives operators two months to tell the government if they still plan to frack, now a criminal activity in France.

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