In a setback to Europe’s nascent shale-gas industry, Chevron Corp. said Friday it is relinquishing its interests in shale-gas concessions in Romania, the U.S. oil giant’s last shale-gas project in Europe.
It follows Chevron’s announcement last month that it was quitting shale-exploration activities in Poland. Last year Chevron terminated shale-gas agreements in Lithuania and Ukraine.
“That leaves Romania, where we are in the process of relinquishing our concession interests,” a Chevron spokesman said.
The spokesman didn’t say why Chevron was giving up the Romanian concessions.
As in many cases with energy projects, Chevron negotiated a contract with the government for the concessions, which the company is now relinquishing.
Chevron’s pullback on European shale development will be disappointing to some European governments that have been eager to replicate the U.S. shale-gas boom, hoping to reduce reliance on imported gas supplies, in particular from Russia.
But progress has been slow. Disappointing exploration results in Poland and local opposition to hydraulic fracturing, the technique used to release the gas from the rock, have stymied efforts elsewhere.
Countries with promising geology, such as France and Germany, have imposed a moratorium on fracking.
In the U.K., which lifted a moratorium on fracking at the end of 2012, companies have to apply for as many as seven permits and go through a lengthy planning application process before they can drill and frack. So far in Britain, only a handful of wells have been drilled and just one fracked in 2011.
Earlier this week, BP said in its annual energy outlook that there is unlikely to be any significant shale production in Europe, including the U.K., over the next 20 years as the conditions aren’t as conducive to shale development as it was in the US.
Exxon Mobil Corp., France’s Total SA and Marathon Oil Corp. have already quit shale projects in Poland.
By Selina Williams