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France to Keep Shale Ban Until Fracking Alternative Emerges

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France bans frackingFrance isn’t prepared to tap its shale energy resources until “clean technologies” are invented to replace hydraulic fracturing, Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said.

The technique known as fracking causes “irreversible pollution” in some cases, the minister was cited as saying in an interview published today in Les Echos newspaper. It will probably be replaced by a different method, he said.

The French parliament passed a law last year outlawing fracking because of concern it can pollute drinking water, effectively halting plans by companies including Total SA (FP) to explore for shale gas in southern France. Fracking is widely used in the U.S., including by Total, to produce gas.

France will maintain the ban on fracking, Environment and Energy Minister Delphine Batho told RMC radio today.

Debate over the future of shale energy in France has resurfaced since the election of Socialist President Francois Hollande in May.

“Hydraulic fracturing is and will remain banned and currently it’s the only way to produce shale gas,” Batho said today. “Debate is now centered on a technology that doesn’t exist right now to my knowledge. A new technique hasn’t yet been demonstrated.”

French energy companies and industry officials have increasingly argued in recent months in favor of exploring for shale oil and natural gas in a bid to quantify reserves of shale

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