Austria

Political Situation

Politically the situation seems difficult: The environment Minister said “No” to drilling with “actual technology”, which means that he left the backdoor open to change his opinion, however he is without formal power. The economic Minister wants to examine the situation first, before making a decision, his opinion is more important as it is the ministry of economy that can approve a shale gas licence. The mayors of the affected communities are still neutral, however their opinion seems to be crucial in order to get stronger opposition against the project.

March 2012: two governing mayors of the towns Herrnbaumgarten and Poysdorf announced that they will not give their permission for the two planned test-drillings at the beginning of 2013

Until July 2012: Discussion on an environmental assessment for shale gas projects. Green groups and environmental activists are for a ban on fracking, but however the government has yet brought the Environmental assessment legislation to the parliament -> All shale gas projects including test drillings will have to be assessed obligatory. However Industry, labour unions, etc. are lobbying hard against it.

July 20012: Austria adopted a law that makes Environmental Impact Assessment for “fracking” obligatory. Furthermore against heavy lobbying of industry and labour unions, also “test wells” or demonstration projects would be obliged to do so if they want to use the technology of “fracking”.

Mid-September 2012: Due to the fact that a compulsory environment check was implemented into the legislation in Austria the OMV announced that there will be no development of shale gas in Austria due to economic reasons.

2013: Elections in “Lower Austria” (federal state where shale gas resources are expected) and it is to be expected that there will be no attempt of shale gas prospection until the elections are over, as politicians obviously don’t want shale gas to be a topic during the election campaigns.

Shale gas activities

Austrian oil company “OMV” is still investing millions into a research project what they call “Clean Fracking”, mostly made with starch. It is still unclear on which development stage they are already.

There are shale gas resources already discovered in the north-east of Austria a region called “Weinviertel”.

Mobilisation

The population is split between people who are influenced by the company as they are already a big employer in the region and many people who are concerned about the risks of fracking as well as people who are concerned about climate change and those who want to see first priority to renewable energy.

The decision of the two governing mayors of the towns Herrnbaumgarten and Poysdorf was reached thanks to the massive resistance against the shale gas project of the following groups: farmers, wine-farmers, tourism stakeholders and a lot of people who have given their signature against this project. So as a result the oil and gas drilling company OMV announced that the project will be stopped after a dramatic loss of public confidence due to wrong and poor information strategy.

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Posted in Reports, Reports Europe

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