Germany voted today to ban commercial fracking of unconventional resources, including CBM and shale gas, “until further notice.” Conventional fracking is allowed to continue.

Germany imposed limits on fracking on Friday, dealing a blow to efforts to develop shale gas by Caroline Copley and Vera Eckert, June 24, 2016, Reuters

Under legislation passed by its lower house of parliament, fracking will be banned in clay formations, which typically lie between 1,000 and 2,500 meters deep.

Scientific test drilling will be allowed but only with the permission of the relevant state government and under the watch of independent experts. [Does “independent” in Germany mean by oil and gas industry experts like it does in North American?]

Fracking for deep-lying or “tight” gas typically 4,000 to 5,000 meters deep, which has been done for more than 30 years in Germany, will continue but under more stringent regulation.

In tightening its rules on fracking Germany follows France, which has banned the practice, and the Netherlands, which last year introduced a moratorium on shale exploration until 2020.

The German ban is indefinite but parliament will reassess it in 2021 under a compromise reached between the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the left wing Social Democrats (SPD).

… Germany’s gas industry has warned restricting fracking could increase the country’s dependence on imported energy, much of which it imports from Russia.

“Shale gas is an important option, where we have practically given away our chances with this legislative package,” said Christoph Loewer, managing director of German oil and gas association BVEG in Hanover.

Germany could extract between 320 billion and 2.03 trillion cubic meters of gas from depths below 1,000 meters in northern Germany, according to the Federal Institute for Geosciences (BGR).

That dwarfs the 110 billion cubic meters of conventionally available gas still left, according to estimates by BGR.

Germany last year extracted 9 percent of its domestic gas demand.

Companies involved include BEB Erdgas and Erdoel, Mobil Erdgas-Erdoel, GDF Suez E&P Deutschland, Wintershall and Dea. [Emphasis added]

Greenpeace against Germany’s partial fracking ban by Anamaria Deduleasa, June 24, 2016, Upstreamonline
Environmental groups in Germany are against a newly introduced and much anticipated [partial] ban on fracking in the country, claiming the legislation is still “not enough”.

Germany passed on Friday a new legislation partially banning the controversial technique across the country, although it still permits test drilling if allowed by local governments, a move that drew criticism from green groups.

The country’s coalition government – Social Democrat (SPD) party and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats party – presented a final version of the fracking regulations earlier this week that was approved by Parliament on Friday.

As anticipated, the new law includes a moratorium on fracking for shale and coal bed methane until 2021, as well as a general ban on fracking and disposal of waste water in (or under) water. It also permits four fracking research projects for shale and coal bed methane – throughout Germany.

Under the legislation, at the end of the moratorium the Bundestag – Germany’s lower house of Parliament – will review the ban based on the results and analysis of evidence gathered from the research projects.

The ban, however, quickly raised concerns from Greenpeace and other activists organisations.

“It is not a real ban on fracking what they decided. The Bundestag decided that fracking will be allowed. Not banned,” Christoph von Lieven from Greenpeace said.

“Shale gas fracking is limited to four test drillings. But that is not solving the big problems of fracking. Greenpeace is strongly against this law,” Lieven said.

“To pass the responsibility for fracking to the different states inside Germany without changing the law of water protection and law of mining is just closing the eyes and will have an effect at the next elections in regions where it happens,” he said.

Greenpeace criticism were echoed by Friends of the Earth Germany (Bund) campaigners in Germany.

“We welcome the decision to ban shale-gas fracking – but we are deeply worried by the decision of the German parliament to pass amendments to existing laws and regulations that will allow tight-gas fracking in Germany,” Ann-Kathrin Schneider said.

“The new legislation does not entail sufficient safeguards to ensure that the handling of toxic fracking waste and fluids is done without any harm to our natural environment. There is no good fracking and these new regulations are not good enough since they give a green light to tight-gas fracking,” she said.

According to criticism, the new fracking amendments still “enable” the controversial technique to be used. “BUND calls for a complete ban of all sorts of fracking in Germany,” Schneider said. [Emphasis added]


The Christian Democrat CDU-CSU group in parliament led by Chancellor Angela Merkel and their coalition partners, the Social Democrat Party (SDP), agreed earlier this week to continue a ban on commercial fracking of unconventional resources, including shale gas, “until further notice”.

The current law in Germany sets out a ban on commercial fracking for shale gas until 2021.

But this week’s consensus between the two main parliamentary blocks means a law is expected to be enacted that will extend that ban indefinitely for shale and other unconventional resources.

Germany’s petroleum and geothermal energy producers’ association BVEG (formerly WEG) said June 21 it expected the package of measures to go before parliament on June 24.

The country’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks (SPD) said June 22: “I am pleased that the solution found now again clearly accentuates the requirements of environmental and health protection and extends these beyond the improvements agreed by the coalition already a long time ago.”

A limited number of non-commercial test wells would be drilled into unconventional resources, she said, “in order to fill in gaps in our knowledge about unconventional fracking” but that these would be carefully and scientifically conducted to study the effects of fracking on aquifers.

BVEG chief Dr Christoph Lower said: “Shale gas is an important option that, with this legislative package, is virtually dismissed out of hand. Instead of seizing opportunities, they are being blocked.”

However he expressed relief that fracking – used for decades to produce conventional gas onshore – would be clearly permitted: “We welcome the end of the logjam in the political debate about the conventional natural gas production.” The new regulations, he said, would considerably tighten where and when fracking may be used for conventional resources and he hoped this would provide a sustainable basis on which to continue traditional production. [Emphasis added]

German government agrees to ban fracking after years of dispute, Coalition revived proposals after companies said last week they would push ahead with projects by Agence France-Presse, June 24, 2016, The Guardian

German politicians have approved a law that bans fracking, ending years of dispute over the controversial technology to release oil and gas locked deep underground.

The law does not outlaw conventional drilling for oil and gas, leaving it to state governments to decide on individual cases.

But fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, which blasts a mixture of water, sand and chemicals underground to release shale oil and gas, will be banned.

Only a handful of projects for scientific or non-commercial purposes are likely to meet the conditions.

Fracking has been largely unregulated in Germany until now, and the current coalition government under Angela Merkel has been working for months to draw up new rules.

The coalition put forward a draft law on the issue in April 2015, but the text was mothballed due to strong divisions over the subject.

But the government revived the proposal at the last minute as companies, tired of waiting for a legal framework, last week said they would push ahead with fracking projects that had been on hold for five years.

The [smart and practical] German population is deeply suspicious of fracking and fears its impact on the environment and, in particular, drinking water resources.

But the industry ran an intense campaign to at least keep the option open for the technology to be used.

Gas producers such as Wintershall and Exxon Mobil had initially agreed to a five-year moratorium on their extraction projects, but lost patience with the authorities.

The opposition Greens have accused the government of rushing through the vote by using the twin distractions of the British EU referendum and the Euro 2016 football championship to push through a text that it says is too lax.

Merkel Set to Pass Legislation Banning Gas Fracking in Germany by Brian Parkin and Arne Delfs, June 23, 2016, Bloomberg

The lawmakers moved quickly after a report that companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Wintershall AG, which sought licenses for exploration, were preparing to move ahead. As long ago as 2014, Merkel’s coalition prepared an mining amendment that would allow shale fracking below 3,000 meters under certain geological conditions. The government wanted the companies to hold off on projects until after the amendment was passed.

“We have a new situation where industry said that without any legal rules, we’ll simply start making requests,” said Volker Kauder, parliamentary chief for Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc, in comments to reporters this week in Berlin. “Therefore we had to act.”

The draft amendment on which lawmakers will vote Friday in Berlin will:

Ban uncoventional fracking nationwide excepting 4 test probes for scientific purposes. Lawmakers to review the ban in 2021.

Give Germany’s 16 state govts a veto right in whether to allow conventional fracking on their territory. Conventional drilling not permitted in zones supplying water for consumption.

[Refer also to:

2016 06 21: It’s not a ban, it’s a partial moratorium: “German government agrees to ban fracking indefinitely” ]

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