Parliament discussions of the perspectives of shale gas extraction

On 22nd of May, 2013, hearings on environmental issues of shale gas extraction in Ukraine have been held by the Committee of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of Environmental Policy, Natural Resources and Elimination of Consequences of Chornobyl Catastrophe.

Governmental and local authorities, environmental groups, Shell and Chevron companies have attended the meeting. The main discussion was about the environmental risks of developing unconventional gas on Yuzivska and Oleska areas and techniques to minimize such risks. According to the press service of the Committee, the issues raised were about the risks of contamination of aquifers and groundwater, water use during drilling, technical use of chemicals, handling of drilling wastes and the possibility of greenhouse gases emissions during extraction of unconventional gas.

NGO representatives emphasized on the need of transparency of all processes related to the development of unconventional gas extraction in Ukraine and the close cooperation between Shell and Chevron and local communities. In particular, Oleg Peregon, the chairman of Kharkiv regional NGO “Green Front”, drew attention of the participants to the existing assessments of shale gas extraction published by the world expert and scientific institutions. Oleg Peregon mentioned the provisions of the resolution of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which was adopted in September 2012 and includes the following basic requirements: unconditional prohibition of hydraulic fracturing near the main drinking water supply reserves, in areas of seismic faults and areas with drinking water shortage and also near protected natural areas. Moreover, the head of the environmental organization emphasized on the weakness of Ukrainian legislation in terms of regulation of shale gas extraction activities, refering to the findings of the study “Shale Gas of Ukraine” of the US Agency for International Development.

Graham Tiley, the Head of Shell in Ukraine, underlined the global principles of the company in the mining regarding protection of water, air, flora and fauna and local communities. Prior to any works, the company held public hearings and received permission from the community to drill wells; expert company and regional sanitary service have conducted initial assessment of the aquifers in the area of drilling. Moreover, Shell has built bypass road in order to reduce traffic through the village etc. Thus, Mr. Tiley emphasized that there are technical solutions aimed at reduction of the impact of the project on the population and environment. Mr. Tiley was supported by Peter Clark, Regional Manager of Chevron in Ukraine.

Earlier, on May 15, 2013, hearings regarding prospects and challenges of shale gas extraction have been held by the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of Fuel and Energy Complex, Nuclear Policy and Nuclear Safety.

Deputies of Ukraine, representatives of the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry, State Agency of Geology and Mineral Resources, PJSC “Ukrgasvydobuvannya”, local authorities of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Ivano-Frankivsk, , academic and industrial institutions, NGOs, as well as representatives and representative offices of foreign companies: JSC “Shell Ukraine Exploration and Production I”, “Chevron Ukraine”, American Chamber of Commerce, “ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Ukraine BV”, embassies of Great Britain, Netherlands, USA have attended the meeting.