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French PM demands shale permits ‘must be scrapped’

“We need to start from zero,” says Francois Fillon

FRENCH prime minister Francois Fillon has said permits to explore for shale gas in the country must be revoked and reviewed. “We need to start from zero,” said Fillon, “authorisations must be scrapped.” Last year, France granted two shale-gas exploration permits, to US company Schuepbach Energy and Total. The licences allowed the companies to explore for shale gas for between three and five years in southeast France. Other operators, such as Toreador Resources, were preparing to drill for shale oil in the Paris basin.

Since December, environmental campaigners have protested against proposed shale gas extraction. The government responded in mid-March by extending a ban on shale drilling ahead of presidential elections in May 2012.

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