Romania has taken a “discreet” step towards shale gas extraction, announces Jurnalul naţional. On April 29, the Environment Ministry gave the green light to foreign energy companies, including US giant Chevron, to explore by possible reserves in the south-eastern Dobrogea region.

The decision “has wrong-footed the public, who expected a public debate, and more importantly a presentation of environmental impact studies” before any such move, writes the daily, which quotes government minister, Rovana Plumb —

All the EU countries need energy independence and shale gas extraction is one means of attaining this goal.

The minister adds that “the exploration phase does not represent a risk to the environment, because there is no use of hydraulic fracturing technology” in the process of identifying potential reserves of the unconventional hydrocarbon, which can be found several thousand metres underground.

In response to the news, the Vama Verde environmental group announced that it would organise a protest in Vama Veche, in the Dobrogea region, and further demonstrations are planned for the end of the month.

Romania is following the example of Poland and the United Kingdom, the two European countries which have committed to shale gas exploration. Others, like France, have introduced a moratorium on the issue.