Political situation

Gas and Spain in numbers:

  • Gas demand of Natural Gas: 35,8 Bcm
  • Primary Energy mix: 24%
  • Net Gas Imports: 100%
  • Estimated Shale Gas Resources: 180 Bcm

There are many investigation permits requested in the last years. These permits are regulated under the Spanish Law of Hydrocarbons (Law 34/1998). Permits are requested for hydrocarbon investigations in general with no need to specify if they are for Shale Gas (SG) or not or what technique they intend to use. Such law states that companies who requested an investigation permit or exploitation permit, are obliged to submit to the government the documentation requested -features of the deposits, type of works to be carried out, geological reports, investments, etc- but it clearly states that these information are confidential during the period of the permit.
Royal Decree in article 23.1.4º declares the confidential status of the explorations permits.
Also the law 30/1992 says that “access to information cannot be granted for those activities subject to commercial or industrial secrecy”

  • In practice this means that generally:
  • No information on whether permissions are requested for conventional/ unconventional hydrocarbons;
  • No information if the technique of hydraulic fracturing will be used;
  • No access to geological reports to have estimations of the expected volumes of the deposit.

In Spain most hydrocarbon permits have been requested in the late years (2009-2012), matching up with the SG arrival to Europe. This fact, together with fact that some of these companies are known to have at any time requested permits or developed activity related to SG and fracking, allows us to deduct that many of these permits are for fracking.

Shale gas activities

  • Permits Requested more than 50
  • Permits Granted around 40
    In some of the cases the companies have given up the permit:
  • because they do not expect to find anything
  • because it clashes with other interest

One of the permits (Arquetu, Cantabria) has been put on hold by the administration until the court takes a decision on the appeal done by Ecologistas en Acción.

Shale Gas players behind the permits:
SHESA (HEYCO), True Oil, Schuepbach Energy LLC, Trofagás Hidrocarburos (BNK Petroleum Inc.), Greenpark, Pyrinees Energy, Heritage Petroleum, Petroleum Oil&Gas España SA, Frontera Energy Corporation SL (Realm Energy International/ San Leon Energy Plc), Montero Energy, Cuadrilla Resources (??), Repsol (RIPSA), Gas Natural Fenosa ….
15 out of 17 regions are affected by permits
Top 3: Andalucía (25), Castilla y León (25) and Aragón (14)

Level of mobilisation

Several platforms have been created in different territories with different level of activity, and some others are under way. So far, anti-fracking platform of Asturias, Burgos, Araba, Soria, Palencia, Kuartango, La Rioja, Porcuna, Andalucía, Albacete, Bizkaia, Navarra.
Sometimes, these platforms are composed by individual citizens, sometimes by NGOs, sometimes it’s a mixture formula.

Main activities: Informing the affected populations, meeting with the majors and political groups in the municipalities, information requests to authorities and mobilizations, administrative appeals to permits, informative talks addressed to general public, GASLAND or “Fracking Hell” screenings…

In the Northern part of the country there is a campaign to declare fracking free towns. See map on the left to have an idea of how this initiative, which started some months ago with the first village, is expanding now (green areas). More than 100 municipalities have declared themselves fracking-free.

Municipalities have played the almost only opposition so far. Municipality of Vitoria rejected the license request to drill the first two wells by the end of 2012. In addition to this, the region of Cantabria announced beginning of October 2012 that it is seeking a legal tool to ban fracking in the region.

So far the issue has not gained national level dimension. However both the public interest (and echo in the media) and public opposition is growing. October 6th, there where two simultaneous demonstrations in the streets of two northern cities, Santander and Vitoria. 2.000 people marched in the former, around 7.000 in the latter. These are small numbers compared to other demonstrations in Europe, but these are the first big concentrations taking place in Spain against shale gas.

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