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Shale gas and oil prospecting and extraction has been tightened


During the hydrocarbon resource use commission meeting at the Ministry of Environment on Monday, the decision was made to recommend that the Government grant UAB “Chevron Exploration & Production Lietuva” a permit to use traditional and dispersed hydrocarbons resources in the Šilutė-Tauragė area.

“Today the commission recommended that the Government confirm 'Chevron Exploration & Production Lietuva' as the winner. It was legally impossible to reach any other conclusion in our current situation. The bigger news is this – today, we've tightened our environmental regulations for shale gas and oil search and extraction work. We can say that we have become the first nation in the European Union to strictly, clearly and specifically ensure that hydrocarbon resources are exploited safely. All I can add is that we have already implemented laws that the European Parliament is currently only considering,” - said Minister of Environment Valentinas Mazuronis.

After ratifying amendments for the Subterranean law related to non-traditional hydrocarbon prospecting and extraction, the Ministry of Environment prepared sub-statutory law projects that will place tougher environmental restrictions on such work as well.

Comprehensive air, underground and surface water, and subterranean monitoring is mandatory when engaging in shale gas or oil prospecting and extraction. During monitoring, subterranean shafts will be used to monitor the state of underground water resources, and water will be tested at wells dug 5 km from the drilling site. During hydraulic fracturing, subterranean seismic activity monitoring will also be mandatory.

Before beginning prospecting work, the company doing so will have to notify the Ministry of Environment's regional environmental protection departments, the Lithuanian Geological Service, the region's local public health center, and the Radiation protection center about any chemicals used, as well as their exact composition and amount.

The industrial mining waste created by the work (like hydraulic fracturing liquid and drill site sludge) will have to be taken care of according to the EU's mining industry waste disposal directive, which has been implemented by Lithuanian national laws.

The hydrocarbon resource project will have to provide for the re-cultivation of the land used and of other environmental elements, take steps to ensure the health and safety of the surrounding people, protect underground water reserves, and provide for ways to dispose of radioactive waste from industrial mining and natural sources.

According to the new version of the Environmental impact evaluation law, environmental impact evaluation procedures must be carried out for hydrocarbon resource prospecting and extraction processes. This means that, even during preparations for prospecting work, the public will be able to offer its observations and comments on the economic activity being planned. In the event of a negative decision, the work will not be allowed to continue.

Public Information Division

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas