Peasants from local communities are occupying a piece of land to prevent the installation of Chevron for the exploration and exploitation of shale gas in the region of Zurawlow, Poland.
The Polish shale-gas reserves used to be the most promising in the EU. But exploration results have so far disappointed Polish ambitions to free itself from its energy dependence on Russia. Recent weeks have seen companies such as Canadian Talisman and US Marathon leave the country after failure to find commercially viable hydrocarbon reserves. But some companies, such as Chevron, refuse to give up despite widespread grassroots resistance to the social and environmental impacts related to Fracking
Since June 3, the farmers and residents of the Polish town of Zurawlow are facing down Chevron’s attempt to drill in their community. In March 2012, Chevron gave up its first attempts to install a borehole on their municipality. But now they’re back. The first battle was recently seen on Arte in a documentary called the “shale-gas: an energy that divides” Lech Kowalski, the director, is now in Zurawlow for what seems to become a sequel of the battle.
Under the protection of state security forces, Chevron has taken possession of a parcel located on the concession Grabowiec to install a fence and eventually drill on the site. According to the locals, this concession will be valid until December 6, 2013 for seismic testing only. The authorization for drill testing was canceled in June 2012. Chevron therefore has no legitimacy to carry out this work, they argue.
The people resisting the drill for shale gas say that it could lead to the contamination of their water and their land. In earlier seismic tests, the explosives used had already caused water pollution, making it unfit for consumption. A group of more than 150 people occupied the space for 24 hours, demanding Chevron to stop this project. One person was wounded and had to be hospitalized after being hit by a security vehicle.
EJOLT wants to express full solidarity with the people and the farmers in Zurawlow who legitimately oppose any exploration and exploitation of shale gas on their territory. As we have written in this blog, in this report and in this policy brief: any shale-gas exploration is a crime against the climate, the water and the people depending on that water. Resistance to shale-gas has been fierce in France, Bulgaria, the UK and the Basque country, sometimes leading to a permanent or temporary moratorium on the dangerous drilling technique, such as in Bulgaria and France.
Meanwhile, people in Northern Ireland are also mobilising against a bill that would make fracking easy. A new planning bill will make it possible to base planning decisions on economics alone, excluding community or environmental factors. It will allow fracking to be fast-tracked. This short video explains it in 3 minutes and provides all the necessary links. The bill will be discussed on June 24 and civil society from Northern Ireland is urgently calling for outside pressure.
Another case of a fracking conflict in Europe is developing in Romania. At present, EJOLT is gathering facts and details on all these conflicts, adding them to an ever growing database. Results will be presented later this year. Meanwhile, the people from Poland and Northern Ireland should know that they’re right to resist. That the science on climate change gives them good reason to do so. That science shows that we need to keep 80% of all known reserves under the ground and that there’s no space to explore for new reserves.
Here is a daily update from Poland (English): http://occupychevron.tumblr.com/
To follow them on twitter: @occupy_chevron