Compare Republic of Ireland’s Frac Ban with Germany’s Non Ban Frack Ban: Germany redefines fracking; “Conventional” fracking allowed!

Excellent Wordsmithery Trickery

PACKAGE OF REGULATIONS COMES INTO FORCE, No fracking in Germany by The Federal Government of Germany, February 13, 2017

Commercial fracking of shale gas will not be permitted in Germany. Four exploratory boreholes for scientific purposes are to be permitted, to make it possible to assess the consequences for the natural environment. The new legal provisions have now come into force in full.

“Fracking will not be a big thing in Germany,” stressed Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. “We have managed to put in place extensive bans in line with the wishes of the German people. Protecting our drinking water reserves and our natural landscapes clearly has precedence over economic interests,” she added in a statement on the entry into force of the package of legislation and regulations.

No time limit on ban

The agreement provides for a ban on what is termed unconventional fracking until 2021 at the earliest. Thereafter it will be up to the German Bundestag to decide whether or not these regulations should remain in place. That is a comparatively strict agreement, because unless the German Bundestag takes specific action at that stage, the ban will remain in place.

The regulations contained in the package

To ensure greater transparency and improve the way the general public are involved, an initial ordinance came into force on 6 August 2016. It introduced environmental impact assessments and dealt with mining standards and requirements governing the use of fracking technology and deep drilling operations. It imposed mandatory environmental impact assessments and regulated the way “formation water”, the water contained in the pore spaces of the rocks, is handled.

The entire package also includes other rules and regulations relating to the use of fracking technology and other measures connected to the exploitation of natural gas and oil.

These include:

  • The Law on Changes to Water Protection and Conservations Regulations in order to Prohibit Procedures using Fracking Technology and to Minimise Risks, and
  • The Law to Extend Liability for Mining Operations to Borehole Mining and to Subterranean Caverns (cavities), which regulates issues relating to liability.

Four exploratory boreholes will be permitted

To close gaps in our current knowledge about unconventional fracking methods, a total of only four exploratory boreholes may be drilled nationwide in Germany in shale, clay or marl formations, or in coal seams. “These exploratory measures are designed to investigate the impacts of fracking on the environment, in particular underground and on the water regime,” Barbara Hendricks explained. Fracking at depths of less than 3,000 metres will not be allowed in shale and coal formations. [Fracking of shallow and deep tight sands is allowed.]

The research projects will only be permitted in compliance with strict regulations and with the authorisation of the pertinent federal state government. This will ensure that in those states which have reservations about fracking, the option exists at political level to refuse to issue permits for unconventional fracking projects.

The status of fracking technology
Fracking technology has been used in Germany since the 1960s to extract natural gas from conventional reserves (including sandstone and carbonate stones). Currently, about one third of the natural gas produced in Germany comes from reserves of this sort and is tapped by fracking.

Unconventional fracking is the term used to describe operations to tap shale gas and coal gas reserves found in clay, shale, marl and coal formations using horizontal drilling techniques. This technology may only be used for scientific research purposes in Germany, in compliance with strict regulations. [In Alberta, much of the unconventional fracking is vertical, into sands, shales, coals – deep and shallow. Is Germany allowing vertical “conventional” fracking of sands, shales, coals etc?]

Stricter rules, more protected areas

A mandatory environmental impact assessment is now to be introduced for all fracking operations to identify and extract natural oil and gas. This also applies to drilling operations designed to explore and tap geothermal energy, where inputs are used that could contaminate water resources or where the projects are situated in an area prone to earthquakes.

Strict regulations have applied to conventional fracking projects since the 1960s. Area-specific bans on fracking take into account, for instance, mineral water reserves, medicinal water sources and extraction points for water used in food production. The establishment of fracking operations is also banned in conservation areas and Natura 2000 areas in order to protect these particularly fragile environments. [Except, it appears that the new “regulations” might open up the protected areas for “conventional” sands fracking]

What does fracking actually involve?
Fracking techniques use hydraulic pressure to fracture deep-rock formations via a borehole. The process involves injecting what is known as a fracking fluid (a mixture of water, sand and chemicals) at high pressure into the rock formations containing the gas reserves. Gases and liquids can then flow through the cracks produced and thus be extracted.

Priority is to protect the environment and human health

The fracking regulations package aims to protect the environment and human health from the risks involved in the use of this technology. At the same time, safety and environmental standards for the traditional extraction of natural gas, oil and geothermal power have also been tightened, and European standards translated into national regulations.

An independent commission of experts is to ensure scientific monitoring of the exploratory measures on behalf of the German government, as well as evaluating the measures and reporting to the German Bundestag.

More information

Law on the amendment of regulations on water and nature protection to prohibit and minimize the risk of fracking technology in German, August 4, 2016

Gesetz zur Änderung wasser-undnaturschutzrechtlicher Vorschriften zur Untersagung
und zur Risikominimierung bei den Verfahren der Fracking-Technologie* Vom 4. August 2016


Compare to the Republic of Ireland (Northern Ireland has not yet banned fracking, but the people there are working towards a ban too) Definition of Hydraulic Fracturing in their Frack Ban Bill:

No fancy linguistic twists, it’s all fracking, and it’s all illegal (soon as the president signs off, which is expected in new few days).

Germany largely bans fracking with new laws by DW, February 11, 2017

Particularly risky fracking is now banned until at least 2021, and “conventional” fracking will be governed by much tighter rules. For environmentalists, the laws do not go far enough: They want a complete ban.

A new legislative package on the use of fracking in Germany went into effect on Saturday, following much heated debate.

The legislation largely bans a particularly controversial form of fracking and imposes stricter rules on fracking overall. The German parliament and the 16 German states had approved the laws in June and July of 2016 after years of push-and-pull over environmental concerns and economic interests.

… The new German laws distinguish between “conventional fracking” and “unconventional fracking.”

Unconventional fracking is used when gas or oil is found not just embedded in rock strata but bound to the stone. In these cases, the fossil fuel often no longer has gaseous or liquid form. Extremely high pressure and high amounts of fracking liquid – often containing highly toxic chemicals – are needed to extract the fuel.

That practice is now banned in Germany until at least 2021, with the exception of up to four test drillings for scientific purposes. The German parliament is set to reassess the ban in four years’ time.

Conventional fracking is used when oil or gas can be reached comparatively easily. Less pressure, less liquid and fewer dangerous chemicals are usually needed to capture the fossil fuels. This method has been used in Germany since the 1960s, often in tandem with regular drilling: When a source is running low, conventional fracking is used to drive out the remaining oil or gas.

It will remain legal in Germany, but will be subject to tighter restrictions. It is, for example, no longer allowed in areas where drinking water is sourced. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

2017 04 07: Must Watch! New German Documentary (with English Subtitles): The Tricks of the Oil and Gas Corporations/Die Tricks der Öl- und Gaskonzerne Verschmutzen und verharmlosen

2016 07 21: UPDATED with the small printit’s not a ban, it’s a partial moratorium: “German government agrees to ban fracking indefinitely”

2015 04 14: Germany: Federal Cabinet Approves Legislation Making Companies Liable for Frac Damage to Environment or Property

2015 04 01: Frac revolt brewing in Germany

2015 02 13: More “Best in the World” frac backtrack: Germany to legalize fracking, including shallow

2014 08 01: German Environment Agency urges fast frac ban

2014 07 31: Germany EPA Frac Report Released: Risks Associated with Fracing are Too High; “So far, no company has been able to present a sustainable waste management concept”

2014 07 05: Germany: “Fracking for the purpose of extracting gas from shale or coalbed at a depth above 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) will be outlawed”

2013 06 07: German experts: Fracking is unnecessary and risky

2013 05 23: Fracking threatens purity of beer, say German brewers, Purity Concerns: German Beer Brewers Foaming over Fracking, Beer industry asks for halt to legislation on controversial gas extraction

2013 05 013: Germany puts fracking on back burner

2013 02 18: Germany may ban fracking over environmental concerns

2013 02 12: Fracking in Germany? Nein danke!

2013 01 13: German upper house passes resolution to tighten fracking rules

2012 10 05: Fear of Fracking Germany Balks on Natural Gas Bonanza

2012 09 12: AEA: Support to the identification of potential risks for the environment and human health arising from hydrocarbons operations involving hydraulic fracturing in Europe

Surface and groundwater contamination
The study found that there is a high risk of surface and groundwater contamination at various stages of the well-pad construction, hydraulic fracturing and gas production processes, and during well abandonment. Cumulative developments could further increase this risk.

The risks from these activities would increase linearly with the number of wells and the time period over which the risk exposure arises.

USEPA (2011a PR) states that “drilling muds are known to contain a wide variety of chemicals that might impact drinking water resources. This concern is not unique to hydraulic fracturing and may be important for oil and gas drilling in general.”

For individual sites with less than 600 m separation between the fracturing zone and groundwater, the risk was judged “high”. [In Canada, companies are fracking right into drinking water aquifers!]

A proportion (25% to 100%) of the water used in hydraulic fracturing is not recovered, and consequently this water is lost permanently to re-use, which differs from some other water uses in which water can be recovered and processed for re-use.

… Prohibit venting of gases…. [Emphasis added]

2012 09 06: Germany Urged to Ban Shale Gas Fracking Near Water Reservoirs

2012 05 08: German government rejects fracking, saying they are “very skeptical” about the technology

2012 05 07: Nein Danke, German Government to Oppose Fracking

2011 07 28: European Union report says ban fracking

“To use fresh water for hydraulic fracturing — pour toxins into that water…put it into permanent storage — taking it out of the water’s cycle. How’s that sustainable?”

2011 06 01: DIRECTORATE GENERAL FOR INTERNAL POLICIE POLICY DEPARTMENT A: ECONOMIC AND SCIENTIFIC POLICY Impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction on the environment and on human health

Slide from Ernst presentations ]

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