Volume. 11964

Romanians demand stop to U.S. company shale work
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_33.jpgHundreds of protesters have broken into a Chevron site after the U.S. oil giant resumed its search for shale gas in northeast Romania on Saturday. 
According to Russia Today, clashes ensued as riot police started streaming in.
Some 400 people gathered on Saturday in the village of Pungesti, according to local media.
The demonstration kicked off quite peacefully with the protesters chanting “Chevron go home.”
Riot police officers were called into the area, which made the situation "very heated" as clashes between the demonstrators and the police ensued.
The demonstrators also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, according to AFP. Ponta became a strong supporter of the energy source, despite apparent opposition prior to his election.
The activists chanted "Stop Chevron" and held banners saying "No drilling allowed here". Dozens were detained by police.
Following the incident, the U.S. company later announced it was suspending activities in the area. 
Chevron said some equipment had been damaged on the site. "Chevron can today confirm it has suspended activities ... as a result of unsafe conditions generated by unlawful and violent protester activities," it said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
"Our priority is to conduct our activities in a safe and environmentally responsible manner consistent with the permits under which we operate, however this was not possible today."
The U.S. energy giant has been persistent in conducting its shale gas exploration activities, and less than a week ago, riot police brutally removed a horde of villagers who had been camping out at the site protesting the company’s plan.
The site in Pungesti has been the subject of ongoing controversy. The village is believed to be sitting upon vast reserves of the natural resource.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates Romania could potentially hold 51 trillion cubic feet of shale gas, which would cover domestic demand for more than a century.
Chevron won approval to drill exploratory wells in the small town of Pungesti in the impoverished county of Vaslui in October but had to halt work soon after when residents blocked access to the site. It resumed work on Dec. 2.
Shale gas faces opposition due to concerns around hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the process of injecting water and chemicals at high pressure into underground rock formations to push out gas.
Critics, including the Pungesti protesters, say it can pollute water supplies and trigger small earthquakes. Advocates say it has a strong safety record and point to countries like the United States, where extensive fracking has driven down energy prices.

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Last Updated on 07 December 2013 16:41